Riverview Farmer's Market always brings culturally diverse programming to the Riverview Farmer’s Market and Dia De Los Muertos Puppet Parade & Celebration is definitely a favorite Day. In conjunction Riverview Neighborhood Organization a children’s costume contest and a dog costume contest happens before and then there is a fabulous parade with life size puppets.
To give background on this festival, Day of the Dead Celebration is celebrated on November 1-2nd throughout the world. The roots date back to the Aztecs and has now been integrated into the Mexican Catholic culture. According to IB Times, “Dia de los Muertos can be traced back to the Aztecs who celebrated with a festival for the goddess of the underworld, Mictecacihuatl, and the Catholic Spanish conquistadors’ All Saints' and All Souls' days. Scholars have noted the indigenous cultures of Mexico honor the Lady of the Dead, the modern La Catrina, which many recognize today as a skeleton woman wearing a fancy hat.”
Riverview Farmer's Market has been celebrating the festival since 2013. According to Beverly Brown, an active member of the community, ”In 2014, Santiago Cohen moved to The Heights and we asked him to join the first puppet making team. He and his wife, Ethel Cesarman, became the hosts of the puppets making at Santiago’s studio in their home. Since then, Santiago, Phil Huling, and I (Beverly) have been the chief organizers, art directors, and puppet builders.”
The puppets were made in 2014 throughout the market season. All the puppets are papier-mache and with the help of shoppers and their children, the puppet heads were made. There were many volunteers who participated in this project from the design and construction of the puppets to walking in the parade. “This year we had a record number of volunteers for the day of the event carrying the muppets and marching in the parade,” explains Beverly.
As a watcher of the parade, I could tell everyone in the parade loved dancing and being part of this great event. I personally was dancing to the music and loved all the puppets. There was a fabulous Mariachi band, Mariachis Oro de Mexico, who added great music for dancing and post parade fun.
I asked Roger Heittman, the treasurer of the Riverview Neighborhood Organization, why he had participated this year. “This was my first year carrying a puppet. I had gotten a post from Beverly asking for help. Jason Narkiewicz and I carried the big Trump puppet with the red tie and small hands (Senor Small Hands). It was a work out but fun stuff.”
I am looking forward to next year’s celebration to see what new puppets they will create or repurpose current ones too.
Photos of the event provided by JP. Lespinasse and Beverly Brown