The Day of the Dead Grand Celebration was a great success! Last weekend we filled the Mid-Hudson Heritage Center over the brim with Hudson Valley residents who came together to celebrate the great holiday. It was very meaningful for both those who are from the cultures that celebrate this holiday and for those who are not from the cultures that celebrate the holiday to share it with one another. Everyone was very spirited to either teach or be taught about the many interesting traditions.
My personal highlight of the evening was the Grupo Folklorico de Poughkeepsie dance performances. I was very impressed with this dance group that spends a few nights a week practicing dances, and many evenings and weekends performing throughout the area. The outfits that they perform in are also very notable. Watching the brilliant skirts whip around the dancers as they spun was mesmerizing, and gave the sensation that we weren't in "Kansas" anymore. During their final performance I was completely taken by surprise when the men started falling over and tripping one another. As they were smiling and laughing- certainly having a lot of fun roughhousing during an otherwise traditional dance- I eventually realized that they were tripping and falling all over the place on purpose. In this performance the men were pretending to be bulls-though not very tough bulls- and the women were bull fighters, using scarves to attract the bulls to charge and then tripping them or shoving them over. The shock factor made the sight of adult women skipping around men playfully and repeatedly bumping them over even more humorous.
Probably the most memorable moment was the grand entrance that was made by Viva Mexico Mariachi. They came through the Heritage Center door blaring their brass instruments and were responded to by excited cheering and screaming. They set up in the back of the room and put on an incredible show, featuring dancers from Grupo Folklorico de Newburgh, for about an hour to finish off the evening. They played songs that the audience recognized and had a very nice sing along going, until the songs sped up and the audience eventually had no choice but to dance.
We hope that next year this celebration will be even larger, exceeding the limit of the next space that we try to hold it in once again! We learn a little more each year, and we are excited to make an even better week long Dia de los Muertos neighborhood celebration! We have marked our calendars and we advise you to do the same!