Wednesday, November 01, 2006

An Invitation: The Urn Project - All Souls 2006

All Souls Day - Dia de los Muertos (November 2) is one of the most important days of the year in the Southwest, steeped in the traditions that have prevailed here since this area was once part of Mexico. On Sunday, November 5th, members of our family will walk in the 16th All Souls Procession, a human-powered two-mile long procession on the streets of downtown Tucson, which last year included over 7500 costumed participants and thousands more spectators.

The procession ends in "the finalizing action of burning a very large urn filled with the hopes, offerings and wishes for those who have passed. Inside the event are myriads of installation art, altars, performers, and creatives of all kinds collaborating for almost half the year to prepare their offerings to this amazing event."


Our younger son is working on the Urn Project and will also be in the Spirit Group which accompanies the urn and then performs at the finale.

URN PROJECT: The URN has become a symbol for the Procession and its true intention. Traveling 2 miles thru the city streets, the Urn becomes filled with the blessings, dreams, wishes and hopes for the passing of loved ones. Literally several thousand articles, including photographs and prayers, are placed in the URN for its burning at the Grand Finale of the Procession. Can't be here but still want to participate? The Urn Project is open to all. Simply send your blessings, hopes, wishes or dreams via email to
If you prefer, you can send items to me by email and I'll print them out and place them in the urn for you. Feel free to send photos, as well as your writings. Send them to tortoisetrail AT gmail DOT com.
Here are some photos I took of last year's procession.
The procession on 4th Avenue.
The Urn is in the background being guided
by members of the Spirit Group
Two of my colleagues from the Arizona State Museum
dressed in traditional Day of the Dead costumes
they created themselves
The urn starts to glow as it is raised into the air at the finale.
Inside are thousands of messages, prayers, photos and wishes
commemorating loved ones
The urn at its highest, 40 feet in the air,
bursts into flames


Rain said...

That sounds like a fantastic celebration. I have been in Tucson at this time of the year quite often (not this year) but don't take a paper or have the right sources to have ever heard of this. I love the pictures of it

robin andrea said...

I am so glad you wrote about this. I sent a note to the project and plan to send another. It looks like a beautiful procession, and the fire at the end a perfect culmination.

LauraHinNJ said...

I would love to see this celebration someday! Leaned some new things about Dia de los Muertos from your post - thanks!

Pam in Tucson said...

rain - I've lived in Tucson since '64, but didn't know about this until last year. We're looking forward to this year's procession, which I suspect will be much larger. It's getting huge publicity.

ra - Glad you sent in notes. I'll think of you as the urn burns.

laurahinnj - Dia de los Muertos is fascinating. Two years ago, we were just over the border in Mexico and saw the vast fields of golden marigolds that provide the flowers that Mexican families put on the graves. It's lovely to see the families celebrating at the cemeteries, putting candy and food on the graves and sometimes sprinkling the abuelitos' graves with rum and tequila and a cerveza or two as they talk to their ancestors.