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Day of the Dead event dedicates remembrance to lost lives from COVID-19

By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff

Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations looked different this year in order to adhere to coronavirus precautions. Forgoing large and extended celebrations due to the pandemic, the Lynnwood community gathered to celebrate locally. 

A limited number of masked community members gathered on the Lynnwood Recreation Center’s outdoor patio on November 1, honoring and celebrating the lives of their ancestors. In addition to the marigolds and paper cutouts decorating Day of the Dead altars, framed photos of attendees’ loved ones tiered upon one another to be recognized on the community altar. 

Celebrated on November 1 each year, the Day of the Dead is a unique day for the Latinx community to connect with and honor their loved ones, where it is believed that the souls of their ancestors awaken and return to feast, dance, and enjoy music with their living loved ones.

“In our culture we celebrate death, we aren’t afraid of death,” said President of the Guerrero Association Daniella Altamirano-Crosby. “We believe our ancestors will come and grab the food and be within us. The marigolds put out are intended to lead their path to us.”

Recognizing that this year Day of the Dead hit many families harder with the number of sudden deaths due to the coronavirus over the last several months, Altamirano-Crosby dedicated Sunday’s celebration to those who have died from COVID-19.

“The theme of today’s celebration is resilience in the face of adversity for COVID,” said Altamirano-Crosby. “We had people bring pictures of their loved ones to put on the altar to show the resilience that we all have shown facing this pandemic.” 

Lynnwood city councilmember Julieta Altamirano-Crosby says that with COVID-19 affecting every part of our country, and disproportionately affecting the Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), communities it is imperative for the community to stand in solidarity with one another. 

“We wanted to give the community in Lynnwood a space to come together in order to heal, and remember ancestors, this event celebrates both death and life,” said Altamirano-Crosby. “Sharing our traditions with others is vital because it allows us to grieve and heal. We want to make sure we pay tribute to those souls who have been lost throughout the year to this disease.”

Having recently lost her father, Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith was in attendance, placing a photograph of him and other late loved ones to display on the altar. 

“I decided this year that I would bring pictures of my passed ones,” said Smith. “I’m just going to honor them today and feel them with me.”

Historically, a Day of the Dead community display has been set up at Lynnwood City Hall, with a countywide celebration held at Everett Community College boasting an average attendance of 500 people. The newly founded Guerrero Association created when the city of Lynnwood established a friendship with Guerrero, Mexico, was equipped to combine both experiences this year by separating the event into two 20 person sessions. 

“We’ve been honored to have the leaders of the Guerrero Association want to take the time to share with the city,” said Smith. “I want to thank them and also the work and journey that we are on now as a friendship city.

According to Mayor Smith, the local Latinx population is one of Lynnwood’s largest communities, so continuing to hold events recognizing and celebrating its culture for others to see the representation of themselves within their community. 

“It’s really important that people see icons of their culture where they live,” said Smith. 

Newly appointed member of Lynnwood’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission Josh Binda says that the Day of the Dead event allows the community to come together to celebrate and promote the diversity in which they live. 

“It goes to show what we want,” said Binda. “We want to be able to celebrate different diversities and people and their backgrounds and history. I think today we just want to show as a city that we support this community and value their culture. This is what we want, to bring all of these cultures together and make them all feel equally appreciated and of value.” 

The Guerrero Association extends a special thank you to the city of Lynnwood, Humanities Washington and Consulado de Mexico en Seattle for their sponsorship of the event.

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