Members of UPROSE (United Puerto Rico Organization of Sunset Park) gathered on Friday, October 31, to honor deceased family members, friends, and loved ones through a Dia de los Muertos celebration.
In contrast to a conventional Halloween celebration, in which candy and costumes are the primary themes, Dia de los Muertos is a more solemn event in which the lives of the dead are given respect through food offerings, stories and music.
For this occasion, flowers and candles aligned underneath a Mexican flag within UPROSE’s two-floor Sunset Park space; skull artwork drawn by UPROSE’s children members covered the walls, and pictures of the deceased were posted on a board in front of the room.
Coordinators of UPROSE’s Dia De Los Muertos event stressed the importance of keeping this tradition alive within the Sunset Park Community. “We try to do this as often as possible as a way to engage the community- we always try to do things that are festive, that involve our culture, and things that are inter-generational.” said Cynthia Moices, UPROSE’s assistant director. “This day (Dia de los Muertos) celebrates Halloween in a different light than what is traditional in American culture.”
Elizabeth Yeampierre, UPROSE’s executive director, spoke at length of the importance Dia De Los Muertos (and other celebrations) had on strengthening the Sunset Park community.
“These events are really meant to bring community and culture together, because community should have an opportunity to come together to build and celebrate,” Yeampierre said. “The Day of the Dead doesn’t just honor our ancestors and people who came before us, but also the fragility of human life, and how you have to make every single day count.”