After Ten Years, Florida Day of the Dead Is Old Enough to Stay Up Late

Do you have your ofrenda ready?
Do you have your ofrenda ready?
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
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Día de los Muertos began thousands of years ago in Mexico and Central America among the Aztec, Maya, and Toltec peoples as a celebration of life and homage to lost loved ones these communities wished to keep alive in spirit. They considered mourning a sign of disrespect — after all, the dead, through memories, are still with us. The Florida Day of the Dead continues this ancient tradition with the tenth anniversary of Fort Lauderdale’s biggest annual block party.

The free, family-friendly, and truly massive celebration returns to downtown on Saturday, November 2, for year ten, now expanded to include the Night of the Dead at Revolution Live.

The musical portion of the evening’s entertainment features not one, but two Florida-based Grateful Dead cover bands: Unlimited Devotion and Crazy Fingers. Technically it’s white dudes performing songs by other white dudes, but it’s done in the spirit of the event; both bands honor the memory, and the songwriting, of rock-n- roll icon Jerry Garcia the same way so many make their own personal connections by honoring the memory of their own loved ones.

Meanwhile, Day of the Dead — founded by the Puppet Network — will unfold on eight different stages across three locations featuring a host of artists, vendors, performers, puppet builders, pop-up ofrendas, sugar-skull face painting, and the signature parade, the tenth-annual Florida Skeleton Processional, which is scheduled to run from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m.

After Ten Years, Florida Day of the Dead Is Old Enough to Stay Up Late
Photo by Carina Mask

Last year, Florida Day of the Dead drew more than 19,000 participants over several days, and 2019 should be no different. With the variety of offerings, there’s surely something for every kind of reveler.

The Mexihka Stage in Huizenga Plaza will be the spot for the processional that features 60 giant puppets reaching up to 18 feet tall, alongside mariachi musicians, traditional dances, and arts and crafts by the indigenous people of Latin America.

Enjoy the spectacle of Mexican dancing horses at the Samhain Circle Stage or attend the “Casa Calaveras” art exhibition at La Historia Stage. Food is at the center of the Muertos Street Festival at the Folkolorico Stage, while drinks abound at Stache’s Tequila Stage.

If the Grateful Dead cover bands are a little too gringo for your taste, the Boneyard Bandstand will present Latin rock melded with New Orleans brass band at America’s Backyard.

The festivities don’t end until 4 a.m. because, well, you can sleep when you’re dead. And then one day your loved ones will celebrate your memory in Fort Lauderdale — it’s the circle of life.

Night of the Dead. With Unlimited Devotion and Crazy Fingers. 8 p.m. Saturday, November 2, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $18 in advance; $20 at the door.

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