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Ogden Day of the Dead activities put focus on COVID-19 victims

By Tim Vandenack - | Nov 3, 2021
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A Day of the Dead altar at The Monarch, pictured Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, features COVID-19 victims among others in a bid to raise awareness about the impact the virus has had on the Latino community. Cirilo Franco, shown here, helped put it together.
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A Day of the Dead altar at The Monarch, pictured Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, features COVID-19 victims among others in a bid to raise awareness about the impact the virus has had on the Latino community.
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A Day of the Dead altar at The Monarch, pictured Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, features COVID-19 victims among others in a bid to raise awareness about the impact the virus has had on the Latino community. Pictured are some of the volunteers who helped put it together, from left, Sandra Nieto, Cirilo Franco, Cindy Quintana and Arlene Anderson.
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Monica Rodriquez, a multicultural counselor at Weber State's Multicultural Center, discusses Day of the Dead activities held Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, at The Monarch in Ogden. An altar dedicated to the dead is in the background. Also in the photo, from left, are Norah Valle, Isabel Asensio and Victor Valle.
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A Day of the Dead altar at The Monarch, pictured Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, features COVID-19 victims among others in a bid to raise awareness about the impact the virus has had on the Latino community. Pictured are some of the volunteers who helped put it together, from left, Arlene Anderson, Cindy Quintana, Cirilo Franco and Sandra Nieto.

OGDEN — Organizers of a week’s worth of activities in Ogden to mark Day of the Dead are using the occasion to put a spotlight on those who have died of COVID-19 and efforts to fight the virus.

The virus has “ruled our lives the last two years. We want to get rid of it,” said Cirilo Franco, who’s helping organize the events, which go through Friday.

Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos in Spanish, has its roots in Mexico and is an annual homage to those who have passed, typically celebrated Nov. 1-2. One of the linchpins of the extended activities this week, organized by a coalition of groups and volunteers and held at The Monarch, is an expansive altar, a Day of the Dead tradition, focused on COVID-19 victims.

COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Latinos and other people of color, Franco said, and the aim of the altar is, in part, to raise awareness about the disparity. Many of those remembered in the altar died of the virus, their photos marked with small notes reading, “Lost to COVID-19.”

“We also wanted to bring awareness to the COVID vaccine so we can try to put the pandemic behind us,” Franco said. As part of the varied activities, COVID-19 vaccines will be administered free on Friday at The Monarch, 455 25th St., from 5:30-8:30 p.m in conjunction with the Weber-Morgan Health Department.

The altar — or ofrenda in Spanish — features photos of those remembered as well as samples of items important to them in life. There’s a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola, which is made with cane sugar; a Mexican mortar and pestle, or molcajete, filled with jalapeños, onions and tomatoes; a bottle of tequila; a bottle of mole, a Mexican sauce containing dark chocolate; and more.

“It’s just your offering to your ancestors, to people who have died,” said Khylee Betancourt, a Weber State student who was assisting with Day of the Dead activities at The Monarch on Monday.

The altar is also decorated with plenty of skulls, skeleton figurines and marigolds. The orange flower is believed to draw spirits.

Day of the Dead altars are typically put up inside homes or even at grave sites inside cemeteries. Family members will remember their loved ones, typically in joyful fashion. “They have flowers. They have food. They have music,” Franco said.

A showcase of Ogden School District art and music is scheduled for Wednesday from 5-7:30 pm. as part of the extended Day of the Dead activities at The Monarch. The Ogden City Latino Film Festival is set for Thursday from 6-8:30 p.m.

On Friday, several performers will be featured, including Las Cafeteras and Weber State’s Ballet Folklorico group. The entertainment is to go from 6:15-9:45 p.m.

Entry is free to all the activities, organized by reps from Ogden Friends of Acoustic Music and other groups.

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