The Day of the Dead was fiesta time in the Oak Grove and at the IUP Museum on Saturday, October 31.
People crowded in front of Fisher Auditorium, having their faces painted and waiting anxiously for “it” to happen.
Suddenly, to the left of Fisher, rhythmic drumming sounds could be heard coming from a skeleton group, dressed in black with white skeleton-painted faces.
The amazing IUP Steel Band Drummers materialized, giving samples of their talents and catching everyone’s eye. As the Steel Band Drummers reached Fisher, trumpets began sounding from the right side of Sutton Hall. From the museum doors, four musicians elegantly dressed in black
and silver-studded charro suits advanced towards the crowd. Mariachi Zelaya announced their integration to the procession.
Approximately 150 IUP and community members joined the Skeleton Procession. The Mariachis headed the parade, the IUP Steel Band Drummers ended the parade (video), and giant puppet heads, Joan VanDyke (Department of Theater
and Dance), Liz Keller’s dance group, and other IUP and community participants sandwiched the middle of the procession (video).
Janet Blood and her students from the Department
of Human Development and Environmental Studies created Catrina outfits out of recycled material: garbage bags, paper, and so on.
The procession wrapped around the Oak Grove, starting from Fisher Auditorium, moving towards Sutton Hall, then walking towards Wayne Ave. As the procession turned left at Waller Hall, traffic stopped to take pictures and watch in amazement. From Waller Hall, the Skeleton Procession walked straight into the
The participants dissembled and dispersed throughout the museum, looking at the Latin American artifacts, picking up a bite to eat, and continuing the celebration. The traditional Mexican food was prepared by Professor Jodie Seybold and her students from the Department of Food and Nutrition.
Just as ghosts, the Steel Band Drummers disappeared, leaving their vibrant spirit. The lively Mariachi Zelaya continued playing folkloric Mexican songs throughout the evening, in addition to boleros, canciónesrancheras, danzones, and tango. The public began asking for
special song requests. The last song request and song played was Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” (video).
Roughly 250 people packed into the Museum, and towards the end of the Day of the Dead festivity, participants danced and sang with the Mariachis (video).
It was 8:30 p.m. and time to lock up the museum, but no one wanted to leave. They wanted the fiesta to continue. It was a night to remember.
(From left: Francisco Alarcón, Elaine Palmer, Lydia Rodríguez, Lisa McCann, Bill Double, and Mariachi Zelaya)
Latin American Studies