On Friday night, the community celebrated and honored the dead, as the streets of Fort Lauderdale and the FAT Village arts district were transformed for the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos.
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Three years ago, the Day of the Dead festival in South Florida was mostly comprised of a parade and a few art galleries containing inspired pieces and shrines or ofrednas to loved ones. However, in just a short amount of time, the annual celebration has grown. This year was certainly bigger than ever in both attendance and in things to do. It almost goes without saying that this event was a success. From the traditional skeletal procession to a multitude of bands, and even a few lowriders on display, there was no shortage of things to overload your senses.
The evening began with a skeleton processional that began at the Museum of Art and wove its way downtown to the celebration happening within FAT Village. A mariachi band led the droves of costumed folk through the streets as cars and curious onlookers paused to get a better glimpse at the colorful swarm of skeletons. While you could join in on the fun wearing regular clothing, there wasn't a casual parader in sight. Women wore traditional dresses, complete with rose crowns and bouquets, while the mens' faces were done up in skeletal paint. There were even some roller derby girls skating their way through town. The belle of the ball, however, was the enormous puppet skeleton adorned in a pink dress with matching lips and hat.
As the full moon rose over the city, more folks arrived. Families and friends were all unrecognizable as they were hidden behind paper-mache masks, wigs, and face paint. And in case any attendees forgot to the do their makeup, artists were on sight to transform skin into bones.
In one gallery, the Circus Basura & Basura Bizarra Sideshow took over the space with fire breathing circus freaks, belly dancing performers, and even a fortune teller was in attendance. In the middle of the space, an elaborate merry-go-round kept the children busy, and local folks set up shop with their Day of the Dead inspired crafts and goodies.
Next to the circus, a space was dedicated to the memorials of lost loved ones where people lit candles, left notes, and built shrines. In the gallery next door, a large Ouija board hung on the walls alongside gas masks, dolls, and an enormous robotic monster. Every which way you turned, another piece of art grabbed your attention. At the end of the strip in C&I studios was the Boneyard Bandstand where the such local acts as Everymen, the Riot Act, and Arboles Libres took the stage. Outside, low riders and decorated hearses were on display, and there was no shortage of folks looking to pose in front of them all. Although, the most amusing part of the evening was watching the parade of cars as they attempted to leave the celebration, bumping bass and hitting their hydraulic switches.
The event was scheduled to close down at 11p.m., however with Laser Wolf and the Mai-Kai nearby, we're guessing the celebration of the dead went on into the wee hours of the night.
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