Procession allows the public to honor lost loved ones

click to enlarge Procession allows the public to honor lost loved ones
(Photo by Warren Van Nest)
The All Souls Procession features a number of local dance and music groups.

The All Souls Procession draws thousands of people to Tucson to honor and grieve for the dead.

In its 33rd year, the 2-mile procession starts at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, at Grande Avenue and Speedway Boulevard, and they walk to the MSA Annex, 267 S. Avenida del Covento.

It is the flagship event of Many Mouths One Stomach, a Tucson nonprofit collective of artists, teachers and community activists who create, inspire, manifest and perpetuate modern “festal culture.”

“It’s many artists, many nonprofits and many organizations coming together to create All Souls, to create this weekend,” said Nadia Hagen, artistic director.

Those who can’t make it to the procession can watch the livestream via the Many Mouths One Stomach and Visit Tucson websites. Hagen said last year the procession drew its largest crowd, 150,000 people. The procession averages 100,000 participants.

The ceremony ends with a ceremonial burning of an urn, where wishes, hopes, offerings and prayers are gathered.

Hagen said that various cultures are represented during the procession.

“Certainly, because we live in Tucson, the Mexican tradition is really strong because there are so many people that that is their ancestry and culture,” Hagen said.

“There are musicians who bring Balinese gamelan. There are musicians who bring Japanese obon, which is part of their ancestral ceremony. There are Brazilian baterias. They bring the sounds from Brazil. There are groups that are from the Pascua Yaqui and Tohono O’odham. There are a lot of groups of Aztec dancers. We encourage for people to come with something that feels authentic and real to them.”

Events and workshops lead up to All Souls Procession. The season kicks off Sunday, Sept. 25, with a mixer at the MSA Annex, where community members can learn how to get involved and meet the event’s directors.

Among the workshops is Xerocraft’s LED event from Thursday, Oct. 13, to Thursday, Nov. 3, at 101 W. Sixth Street, Suite 111.

“They have graphic-rendering bays. They have woodworking shops, metalworking shops, costume shops, robotics tools, 3D printers… It’s an incredible resource,” Hagen said.

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, Wednesday, Oct. 12, and Friday, Oct. 14, Red Herring Puppets will have mask workshops at its studio in Tucson Mall at 4500 N. Oracle Road.

From Tuesday, Oct. 18, to Sunday, Nov. 6, community members can add to an altar in the All Souls Mausoleum in the MSA Annex. The altar was designed by Jose Duran and his crew.

Day of the Dead-themed concerts are Friday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 5, the latter of which features a cacao ceremony and ancestral liberation.

A small event geared toward families known as Procession of Little Angels is Saturday, Nov. 5, at Armory Park. This event will feature glowing altars dedicated to children who have died; a children’s community altar; stories about grief and death, collected from local school children and told by the “Stories that Soar” cast; and upcycled mask-making, sugar skull and angel wings art projects.

Early years

Artist Susan Johnson started the All Souls Procession in 1990 as a ceremonial performance piece following her father’s death.

Founded in 2006, Many Mouths One Stomach has continued Johnson’s tradition. The group is the organizing body for the event and serves as a “vehicle” for organizations to come together.

Community members can also join the procession at any point in the route. Hagen said it is important that those taking part in the procession are respectful of others.

“We just encourage everyone who is participating to be sober, respectful and safe.”

If you go

All Souls Procession Mixer

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25

WHERE: MSA Annex, 267 S. Avenida del Convento, Tucson

COST: Free.


Procession of Little Angels

WHEN: 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5

WHERE: Armory Park, 220 S. Fifth Avenue, Tucson

COST: Free


All Souls Procession

WHEN. Gather at 4 p.m. and start walk 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6

WHERE: Starting point Grande Avenue and Speedway Boulevard, and walk to MSA Annex, 267 S. Avenida del Convento

COST: Free

INFO: facebook.com/AllSoulsProcessionWeekend. allsoulsprocession.org.

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