The now-familiar parade of skeletons marching down Andrews Avenue the first weekend in November reached record numbers last year, as hundreds of puppet-bearing, costumed guests joined mariachi musicians for a processional celebrating Day of the Dead, Mexico's annual celebration of passed loved ones. In all, more than 6,700 people attended the daylong festivities, which included live music and theater, a "Craft Crypt" of local art for sale, the staggering "Nocturne" exhibition of spooky art, and more macabre costumes than a Tim Burton set. But for the Puppet Network's Jim Hammond, who created the festival, the simplest gestures touched him the most, like the ofrenda (a Spanish altar) dedicated to his recently deceased dog, Joplin. He described the tribute as "cut[ting] to the core of what our Day of the Dead celebration is and shall always be." Since the fest ended, there's been no rest for the weary, with Hammond already planning the 2013 edition. New offerings will include a late-night kayak procession, an outdoor venue for traditional dance and music, live re-creations of Frida Kahlo self-portraits, and an elegant black-tie-and-top-hat skeleton affair.

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