What started out as an intimate personal expression of loss and mourning, the All Souls Procession is now a collective celebration of a unique cultural tradition in Tucson. This is the 24th year for the procession and the event has attracted participants from beyond the local community.
Organizers of the All Souls procession are quick to point out that the event is a participatory experience. Everyone is invited to share in the collective expression of what they call a "festal culture."
"I think you see that in the number of people that come out…more and more every year…," said Nadia Hagen, the artistic director for Flam Chen, and one of the directors for the All Souls Procession. "I think it’s that we don’t really know what we’re missing until we realize what we’re missing."
Hagen said the procession, although inspired by the Latin American Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead - traditions, is actually an amalgam of many cultural identities.
"Just having that emotional experience of being able to come out and see your neighbor, experience raw human emotion...grief, sadness, joy, celebration...just with your feet on the street and your neighbor next to you...it forces you to ask big questions," she said.
All Souls procession has grown with each successive year.
This year, two accomplished acrobatic stilt-walking groups are collaborating in a bicultural performance as part of the grand finale.
The project is called Dios de la Adrenalina and it’s been on tour for six months.
All Souls Procession weekend kicks off Saturday, Nov. 2.