UCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Fun and festive is not your typical tune in a cemetery.
But on Friday night, November 2, notes of joy echoed through the hallowed grounds of the South Lawn Mortuary and Cemetery near Drexel Road and Park Avenue.
It was a celebration of spirit on Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, bringing families together in tradition.
It marked the beginning of one of the biggest weekends to honor the dead here in southern Arizona. The finale is Sunday with the 29th Annual All Souls Procession making its way through the west side and downtown Tucson.
On Friday night, there were sizzling sounds at Carlos Mendivil's father's burial site.
"My dad's favorite part was grilling. So why not get a little grill right here?" Carlos said, standing over an open flame and beef.
It’s the way those who have long passed would have wanted it. Family unity was front and center for Julia Flores.
"Being together as a family. That's what he taught us. We're still doing it, regardless of this pain we're carrying every day - every second of our life," Flores said. "A man of very little words. But with his actions, he showed us a lot of love. He was very devoted to his family."
That same family was now showing their devotion in return to Julia's 65-year-old father, Miguel Flores.
Miguel passed away suddenly on the job site, in August 2018, after more than 40 years working on the Freeport-McMoRan mines here in southern Arizona.
He was pictured prominently as his family gathered in extravagant fashion at his burial site Friday night, among his favorite things. Coffee, sugar, and bottles of Miller High Life were scattered among the lit candles, lanterns, and flowers, where he was laid to rest.
"We went all out. Because we want the world to see how important he is to us," Julia said.
The Flores family was among the thousands of other people doing the same. Families and friends descended upon the cemetery in festive fashion.
"Everybody, we're all sharing the same pain. Maybe different levels, but we're all here for the same purpose. To show the world our love and demonstrate our love for our family members that have passed," Julia Flores explained.
Each burial site had its own unique flavor - all in respectful taste.
“There’s no wrong way of doing this,” Julia said. “Everybody’s offering, everything that they’ve done, it’s perfect.”