Where I write

Where I write

November 6, 2012

All Soul's Parade

The word parade may conjure up images of high school bands, politicians and floats, sunshine and blue skies. Unless you are having a parade to get the attention of the dead. In that case, you really do have to think outside of the box, or should I say, coffin. The All Souls Parade in Tucson was started 23 years ago by a woman grieving for her father. She was inspired by El Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which (just in case you don't live in the southwest) is a night for remembering our loved ones who have passed, and not with tears or flowers, but with food, dancing and candles. Fun even. You gotta appreciate that if only for the way it makes death less, well, less scary.

The grieving young woman wanted a creative way to share the love of her father and in her desire to be creative she has inspired the creativity of many others who parade down the streets of Tucson hoping to get the attention of dead relatives. For after all, don't we all wish we could speak again with deceased loved ones? One way to get them to notice us is to play dress up in the middle of the night. The best way to dress up in a way that dead people might like and,  since dead people don't care about designer labels anymore, skeleton is the primary look of choice.

The parade was last Sunday, and I didn't dress up, or march down the street, but I did watch from the sidewalk with my friend Tracy and let me say I can think of worse ways to spend a beautiful November Arizona night.

  First, spirits dressed in white come and take your messages to the dead. At the end of the parade the messages are placed in a giant bonfire and the smoke rises to the heavens and the dead hear, or read, or just know, what you want to say to them. With pen and paper, I told my mom and dad, who have been dead for a couple decades, that I love and miss them and I'm doing just fine. I don't expect them to write back, but I think they liked being remembered.
Anybody can walk in the parade. No charge. No corporate-sponsors needed. It's like 1956 again, no big business involved. People dress in all sorts of ways because we want to get the attention of the dead and to do that you can't just be wearing a plain old t-shirt and jeans. The dead like to be entertained, too!
Some dress as if they are drag queens of the skeleton world. I love that umbrella with the skeletons dangling, makes quite the fashion statement.
Some people try to be scary. This mask gives me the creeps. But it's not for the living. It's for the dead, and they aren't fraidy cats. Speaking of animals...
There was even a float to honor our dead pets. Love that tail. People pasted photos of all their adorable Rovers and Spots that had passed. Sweet in a ghoulish sort of way.
I was a surprised to see Santa! Santa as a ghost. Well, the little kids at the parade weren't crying so I didn't either. This Santa wasn't fat enough, and not all that jolly, not one ho ho ho, and no reindeer.

What I enjoy so much about the parade is that there are no rules, no worries about offending, no political correctness, just a chance to expand the boundaries of our creativity. Even if you don't believe that our dearly departed notice us parading around in silly outfits, there's just something cool about a bunch of people getting together and not being afraid of death for one night. In the morning, we can all hide under the covers again.


Anonymous said...

Nice post squirrel friend. Truly a night to remember. We must get a group together for Zombie Night in Phoenix next year!

Will work for brains,

Rita A. said...

Looks like lots of fun. People's creativity always amazes me. Thank you for sharing something few even know about.

C.B. Wentworth said...

What an interesting event! I love vibrancy of the participants - so much character and spirit. :-)