East High School’s Raza United, formerly known as Latinx Student Union, will be hosting the 5th Annual Día de los Muertos celebration on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Madison East High School.

“There will be a food sale and an art sale starting at 4 p.m. and the actual program will start at 5 p.m. It’s going to be pretty packed … a lot of good stuff … we have some great new performers this year,” Silvia Gomez tells Madison365.

The event will also raise funds for Ballet Folklórico de Maria Diaz. “Maria Diaz and I have organized this event as a way to fundraise for both our groups,” Gomez says. “Funds raised for the Ballet would be going towards offsetting costs for dresses, costumes and to start a buyback program of dresses, outfit, shoes and accessories to help relieve the burden that parents have of buying all of these themselves.”

 Gomez, a Spanish Bi-cultural Bilingual Resource Specialist at East High School and an advisor for Raza United, has been helping to organize the Annual Día de los Muertos since it first started. This year’s celebration will feature a special appearance by Javier Escamilla y su Charro Extravaganza, a professional rope tricking group. 

Javier Escamilla y Su Charro Extravaganza

There will be arts and crafts done by students, face painting by artist Nuria of Metamorfaces, a live painting done by local Mexican artist Rodrigo Carapia, spray tattoos by East High alumni Jahil and more.

“It will be a lot of fun,” Gomez says. “Somebody from [the [Re]Generacion [program] from Centro Hispano will be selling arts and crafts, too. We will have a raffle – baskets of goodies and beauty products.”

Raffle prizes

Starting at 4 p.m. there will be delicious and authentic Mexican food ready for participants to buy made by the families of East High students.

“It will be really good, affordable, delicious, authentic Mexican food,” Gomez says.

This event is hosted by East High School’s Raza United, a Latinx student group formerly known at Latino Student Union at East High School.

“Raza United is a group made up of predominantly Latino students and the focus of the group is to give them more exposure to leadership conferences, volunteer opportunities, and to connect them with local community leaders,” Gomez says. “A lot of our students who participate like to go to big events hosted by LPA [Latino Professionals Association], banquets or other leadership conferences. It’s really a great experience for them.

Raza United used to fundraise money by working concessions at the UW football, basketball, and hockey games. “We didn’t do it this year so that’s a huge, huge amount of money that we no longer have so we need to find other ways to raise money,” Gomez says. “That’s what makes this Dia de Los Muertos event important.”

Performers at last year’s Día de los Muertos celebration at East High

Dia De Los Muertos is two days spent in honor of the dead. The first day celebrates infants and children who have died. This is a group believed to have a special place in heaven, and are referred to as “Angelitos” or little angels. The second day is in honor of adults who have passed away. Families create ofrendas (offerings) to honor their departed family members that have passed. These altars are decorated with bright yellow marigold flowers, photos of the departed, and the favorite foods and drinks of the one being honored. 

“Día de Los Muertos, to me, means remembering our loved ones that have passed away. It’s a time where you share and you just remember those past loved ones,” Gomez says. “Not all of Mexico celebrates it; it’s usually central and southern Mexico that celebrates it but it is now becoming more popular around Mexico and in the United States. It’s gotten a little bit commercialized. 

“A lot of the families we have at school really like coming to Día de Los Muertos here at Madison East because it’s not celebrated in a lot of places in Madison. For them to see it and participate in it is very nostalgic for them,” she adds. “It really brings them back home and makes them feel good. A lot of our families are from central and southern Mexico. A lot of our parents come out for this because they know that’s what they’d do back home and it’s something they really enjoy.”

 

The 5th Annual Día de Los Muertos will be held Saturday, Nov. 9, 5-7:30 p.m. at Madison East High School, 2222 E Washington Ave. Tickets will be sold at the door: $7 for adults, $5 for students, Free for kids under 4 yrs old. For more information, e-mail Silvia Gomez at sgomezdesori@madison.k12.wi.us