Day Of The Dead, Tucson


25 years ago, Susan Kay Johnson’s dad died.  She decided to honor him by means of a procession on All Souls Day, as is traditionally done in Mexico.  A few of her closest friends got together (I think it was 5 or 6), made costumes, and marched through downtown Tucson.  I had to man my gallery that evening, but they did stop by.  I don’t know exactly how many years it took, but that little procession grew every year until it got to the point where the streets had to be closed off.  At some point, Sue decided it had grown beyond her and gave over control of the parade to Paul Weir and Nadia Hagen of Flam Chen.  Last year, some 50,000 people dressed up, painted their paces, built floats, created drum circles, or just walked along the route, which now culminates in an extravaganza of pomp and fire symbolizing the release of all souls’ troubles.  Sue still participates, but she also has a small procession in which a few of us parade unescorted through the streets to the Tucson Museum of Art, where the community has set up shrines of remembrance like the one in my photograph above.