Tucson Meet Yourself community altar connects the living and the dead

Community alter

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A mother-daughter duo from Los Angeles, California brought their talents to southern Arizona for Tucson Meet Yourself this weekend.

Ofelia Esparza and Rosanna Esparza Ahrens built a large-scale replica of a family Dia de los Muertos altar. But they want festival goers to take part in remembering their loved ones.

It’s as easy as copying a photo of a loved one on site and placing it in the altar. Photos can also be submitted to the Ancestry Project, a program by the All Souls Procession that projects images of those who have passed on public walls on Nov. 3.

Tucson Meet Yourself festival goers can place a photo of their loved ones at the community alter open all weekend.
Tucson Meet Yourself festival goers can place a photo of their loved ones at the community alter open all weekend. (Source: KOLD News 13)

It’s a way for people like Diego Diaz, 11, to remember those they loved so much.

This weekend, he came to pay his respects to a man he called “Super Gramps.”

“He died and I wasn’t there, sadly. And we just remember him," Diaz said. “Hope your happy where you are and we just really miss you.”

The community altar is adorned in bright orange marigolds in front of a dazzling teal backdrop, with photographs lining its tiered stage. It’s a pretty sight, but the meaning behind the beautiful marigolds runs much deeper.

Tucson Meet Yourself festival goers can place a photo of their loved ones at the community alter open all weekend.
Tucson Meet Yourself festival goers can place a photo of their loved ones at the community alter open all weekend.

“In our tradition it represents a bridge connecting the living and the dead and connecting generations,” Rosanna said.

For Diaz, that bridged connected him to man he knew only for a moment.

"It’s just respect to him because he’s no longer with us and he’s in a better place,” he said.

It’s also giving anyone who walks past this weekend the chance to place a picture and build a bridge to those left behind. The altar is free to the public and will be up until Sunday.

“People give the respect and that’s a wonderful thing to experience,” Ofelia said.

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