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Uniting souls and memories
La Voz Photo

By Joshua Pilkington

Pueblo’s Day of the Dead celebration brings a welcome partnership

For the second consecutive year El Pueblo History Museum and Sangre de Cristo Hospice & Palliative Care are partnering up to bring a full Día de los Muertos celebration to Pueblo. The evening celebrates the Day of the Dead in a sincere form by honoring the lives of loved ones who have passed on.

“Ours is true to the spirit of Día de los Muertos, not just a marketing event,” said Zach Werkowitch, Community Relations Coordinator at El Pueblo History Museum. “We try to be very respectful to memories of people’s loved ones and make it a place where people can come and honor their loved ones in a really authentic way.”

That authenticity is seen through the long-standing tradition of a community-based altar at El Pueblo History Museum, as well as their recent partnership with Sangre de Cristo Hospice & Palliative Care.

“For several years we’ve had a community altar at the museum set up several weeks before Día de los Muertos for the community to come and add memories and photos, write letters and make paper flowers, and so on,” Werkowitch said.

This year the event takes place tomorrow from 4 to
7 p.m. at El Pueblo History Museum on 301 N. Union Avenue. The celebration is free and open to the public.

When Sangre de Cristo Hospice offered to partner with El Pueblo History Museum it also allowed the non-profit organization and only in-patient facility of its kind south of Colorado Springs to showcase itself at a community-oriented event to a wider demographic.

“One of their missions is to help people stay in their home surrounded by family,” Werkowitch said of the focus of the Sangre de Cristo Hospice for those who are nearing death. “They see moving past this life as part of a journey that they want to help people with. It’s not all sad and terrible. There is an element of honoring and loving people as they die and after they do.”

El Pueblo History Museum, for its part, is able to use the event to enhance its mission as the state’s primary storyteller and historical stenographer. One of the centerpieces of the event is the community altar, which is used for leaving and recording memories of those who have passed on.

“One thing that El Pueblo History Museum does is a lot of memory work, Werkowitch said. “It’s part of our ongoing history collection and of our exhibits. One thing that we’ve done is set up for people to record memories and leave them at the altar - memories of their loved ones who have gone one.”

We’ll have two dance performances and we’ll also have origami where people can make paper butterflies or whatever they want. We’ll also have some face painting where they’ll be painting monarchs and calaveras on faces. We will also have bean art on the floor, which is a community art installation that people can participate in.”

The Día de los Muertos community celebration will also include opportunities to write letters to loved ones, lantern and flower making, as well as dance interpretations specific to the Day of the Dead by both the Omawari Folklorico Dance Group and Grupo Xochitl Aztec Dancers.

“We’ll also have some face painting where they’ll be painting monarchs and calaveras on faces,” Werkowitch said. “We will also have bean art on the floor, which is a community art installation that people can participate in.”

As the event brought in about 200 attendees last year, in what could be considered its inaugural year, Werkowitch said he expects the numbers to be between 200 and 300 this year over the three-hour span.

For those interested in leaving offerings at the community altar, recommended items include photos, poems, food and other mementos to connect the souls that have passed on.





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