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‘A memory for the dead and a party for the living’: Day of the Dead festival turns 10

Oversized puppets play a big part in the Florida Day of the Dead Celebration.
Oversized puppets play a big part in the Florida Day of the Dead Celebration. Florida Day of the Dead

It’s happening: the 10th anniversary of the Florida Day of the Dead celebration Nov. 2.

The ever popular and spirited festival in Fort Lauderdale gets its inspiration from the Mexican holiday, remembering loved ones who have passed.

The free, family-friendly event will feature a raucous street party full of mariachi musicians, wild costumes, giant puppets and folkloric dancers, including (yes) horses.

What started with just 750 attendees in 2010 has grown into a massive event over the years. In 2018, more than 19,000 people participated.

Day of the Dead
Sugar skull makeup at Florida Day of the Dead festival in 2014 Al Diaz MIAMI HERALD STAFF/FILE

“Our mission is to produce a signature event for all ages that maintains and respects the cultural integrity of international Día de los Muertos traditions,” says event founder/puppeteer Jim Hammond. “The Florida Day of the Dead Celebration provides a memory for the dead and a party for the living.”

The outdoor celebration is held in various locations at 3 p.m. in downtown, near Riverwalk.

At Huizenga Plaza, the “Mexihka Stage” will feature traditional dance, music and crafts by the indigenous people of Latin America. In Esplanade Plaza, the Mexican dancing horses show begins at 4 p.m.

The park around History Fort Lauderdale will also have Latin food for sale, pop-up ofrendas (decorated altars of remembrance), calavera (colorful skull) face painting, puppet building and “crypt craft” vendors.

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Florida Day of the Dead Celebration at America’s Back Yard night club in downtown Fort Lauderdale. AL DIAZ MIAMI HERALD STAFF

A huge highlight is the so called Skeleton Processional starting at 5:30 p.m. in Huizenga Plaza, featuring 60 puppets measuring up to 18 feet tall and over 1,000 (yes) skeletons, marching to mariachi music along the Riverwalk.

If you want to keep the DOTD party going, head to Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., which is holding a Night of the Dead concert at 9 p.m., with cover bands playing (you guessed it) music by the Grateful Dead.

For tickets to that show go to Livenation.com or call 954-727-0950. Prices are $10 in advance and $15 day of show.

If you go:

What: Florida Day of the Dead

When: Starting at 3 p.m. Nov. 2

Where: Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale

More info about the festival: www.dayofthedeadflorida.com

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