Day of the Dead "reverse parade" set for Oct. 24 in Midtown and Overton Park

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group are hosting a free, socially distanced Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead celebration on Saturday, October 24, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. It will wind through Midtown and end in Overton Park.

"This family-friendly event is meant to bring everyone together to honor and remember the friends and family who we’ve lost," said Kathy Dumlao, director of education and interpretation for the Brooks Museum.

Dia de los Muertos began in Mexico but the celebration of loved ones who have passed has since spread across Latin American and is celebrated throughout the world by people of Mexican descent. 

This is the fourth annual Memphis Dia de los Muertos parade but the first to be "reversed."

Instead of crowds gathered on the side of the road as a parade passes by, this year's patrons will drive the designated parade route in their own vehicles and see its performers, music, altars, and other festivities stationed along the way. 
The 2020 Reverse Dia de los Muertos parade through Overton Park (purple) and alternate traffic routes (red). (Memphis Brooks Museum of Art)
Performances will include Danza Azteca Quetzalcoatl de Memphis, Herencia Hispana, Mariachi Guadalajara, and costumed performers from the Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group. 

"Personally, I love the music the most, so I'm excited to hear the mariachi band. But I'm also excited to see people come together to celebrate the Day of the Dead," said Dumlao.


The celebration will also offer kits for Dia de los Muertos art-making activities at home. The kits can be reserved in advance and picked up at the Brooks Museum before the event or picked up at the parade.

Pandemic precautions will be observed, including no exiting of vehicles and no open windows.

Traffic will back up on Poplar Avenue going westbound at the eastern entrance to Overton Park.

Visit the parade's Facebook event page here for more information including the route details and a full list of parade rules. 

"Learning about other cultures through a celebration is always fun, but most importantly is that it leaves you with the knowledge and learning of the people who live in your community," said Monica Sanchez when asked why it's important for people who are not Mexican or Latin American to learn about those cultures. 

Sanchez is artistic director of Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group and said celebrations like the Dia de los Muertos parade are also important for people who are Mexican or Latino.

"It is essential to maintain our traditions and share with our children who were born in this country. To feel proud of our heritage not only to us but to our children as well," she said.

Both Sanchez and Dumlao said they hope patrons will leave with a greater understanding and respect for Latin American cultures. 

"I hope they have fun and experience a sense of excitement and joy when they hear the music and see the dancing and other displays," said Dumlao. "And I hope they also take a moment to stop to honor and remember the loved ones that they’ve lost."

"Our goal is always to share, teach, and show how beautiful our culture really is," said Sanchez. 

Read more articles by Cole Bradley.

Cole Bradley is a native Memphian and graduate of the University of Memphis. Cole's worked locally as a researcher and community engagement strategist and began contributing to High Ground in Jan 2017. 
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