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Day of the Dead Celebration in Southwest Detroit

There's no better place to celebrate Dia de los Muertos than in Mexicantown. See ofrendas Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2013, and join in a 5K/10K run Saturday.

This time of year, Halloween presents plenty of frightening images focused on, well, dead (and even "undead") creatures. But in reality, while death can be sad, it doesn't have to be scary – or even taboo. That's what fuels the traditional Day of the Dead – aka Dia de los Muertos – honored in early November each year in Mexico (it coincides with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day). And, here at home, it's being celebrated in Southwest Detroit from Thursday, Oct. 31 through Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013.

On all three days, you can explore the ofrendas on display throughout the Mexicantown area. These private altars honor deceased relatives and friends. They're decorated with sugar skulls, bright marigold flowers and favorite foods and beverages of the deceased person.

In 2013, there are 17 ofrendas to discover at area restaurants, community centers, churches and stores. Watch for altars honoring heroes of the Mexican Revolution, local neighborhood residents – even one for famous aviator (and native Detroiter) Charles A. Lindbergh. On its website, Southwest Detroit Business Association offers a brochure with locations and hours for each ofrenda, so you can create your own (roughly) one-hour walking tour.

Speaking of getting moving: On Saturday, be sure to take part in the annual Run of the Dead at Patton Park Recreation Center. It takes off at 9 a.m. (show up early between 7 and 8 a.m. the day of the event to register in person). The 5K/10K run, which is open to adults and kids, takes participants through two historic cemeteries and features entertainment like guitarists, stilt walkers, singers and a Danza de la Muerte (Dance of Death) by the Living Arts Youth Ensemble. Runners also vie for prizes by age group and get swag bag. The event wraps up by noon.

Looking for a good sampling of the holiday all in one spot? The Mexicantown Fiesta Center hosts seven altar exhibits, lectures, a short film and outdoor "cemetery." It will have hours between Wednesday, Oct. 30 and Tuesday, Nov. 5. During the main Saturday festivities, it's open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. The entry cost here is $2/adults and $1/students.

Note that while there are also a variety of workshops offered each year, as of the week of the event, nearly all are full/sold out.

For more information on the Day of the Dead 2013 activities in Southwest Detroit, check out the Metro Parent listing.

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