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Cemetery celebration to honor lost loved ones for Day of the Dead

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Oct 31, 2023

Photo supplied, Norma Carver

This is a picture of an ofrenda, or alter. During Day of the Dead, people leave pictures, food and other memories at the alter in celebration of their deceased loved ones.

OGDEN — For the first time in Northern Utah, the Day of the Dead will be celebrated in a cemetery.

Hosted by Myers Mortuary, the celebration will be held Wednesday at Myers Evergreen Memorial Park, 100 Monroe Blvd., from 6-10 p.m.

Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is an annual tradition originating in Mexico. It’s an opportunity for friends and family to honor and celebrate the lives of their deceased loved ones.

“We have wanted to do something with the Hispanic community for a long time,” said Christina Myers, outreach director for Myers Mortuary. “We’re really excited this year because nothing has ever been done at a cemetery in our area, so this is really going to be special. We will be holding it at the very northwest portion of the cemetery where there are no burials.”

The event is free and open to the public, Myers said. People are invited to bring a picture of their deceased loved one, human or animal, as well as one of their favorite food items.

“We have a wonderful program lined up, but we are also using this as a teaching moment,” Myers said. “This is a very cheerful celebration and the Hispanic community is better than most in seeing death as a part of life and accepting it more than we do in other cultures. A lot of us try to avoid it and perhaps their outlook is much healthier than ours.”

The program will include a talk about why the Day of the Dead is celebrated, followed by performances from Youth Impact, Mariachi Zavala, Dancer of the Heart from Oaxaca en Utah and more. There will also be food, prizes, contests, face painting, a photo booth, a free moving showing of “Coco” and a walk through the cemetery.

“Food plays a very important role in the Day of the Dead celebration,” Myers said. “Samples of the traditional pan de muerto (Day of the Dead bread) will be shared by the bakery Panaderia dulce y salado. Food trucks and vendors will also provide everything from tacos to tamales and specific Day of the Dead merchandise.”

Norma Carver, founder of Oaxaca en Utah, said her group will be dancing and displaying beautiful dresses that were made specifically for this occasion.

“We want everyone to come and share in the celebration with us,” Carver said. “This is a way to celebrate those who have passed away and to honor them and give them respect. We build an ofrenda (altar) where we place their pictures and any of their favorite food items, and we like to share stories about the beautiful things they did while they were living.”

Carver said while it’s incredibly sad to lose a loved one, it’s important to focus on the wonderful things they did in their lives and the legacy they offer.

“It’s really a blessing to have this festivity and a way to let them know they are still alive in our hearts,” she said. “One way or another, we are all going to die, so instead of focusing on the negative, it really helps to focus on the life they lived and the joy they brought to our lives.”


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