Everyone invited to All Souls Night celebrationAll Souls Night is a community celebration that honors deceased loved ones and pets, and global issues.
By: Esther Piszczek, For the Budgeteer News
All Souls Night is a community celebration that honors deceased loved ones and pets, and global issues.
While its tradition stems from the Mexican Day of the Dead, the Duluth celebration is called All Souls Night because it honors the passing of souls from the human and animal kingdoms.
Last year approximately 400 people attended the All Souls Night Celebration at the Depot. Now in its sixth year, All Souls Night has expanded into a two-part event. Free family-friendly festivities will take place at the Depot from 6 to 8 p.m. on November 2, and an after-party at the Sacred Heart Music Center will entertain the 18+ crowd from 8 to 10 p.m. for a $5 admission fee.
Paper-mâché artist Mary Plaster, who has organized the event since its inception, became familiar with the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition in 1984 when she was studying masks and puppet making in Guanajuato, Mexico.
“I have a vision for it [All Souls’ Night] as an alternative to Halloween. I like the message of Day of the Dead. I like the creativity and hopefulness that comes out of the real human emotions like grief and when we turn around the grief into something hopeful.”
Part one of the celebration will begin with face painting and the viewing of ofrendas at the Depot at 6 p.m. while musicians Kathy McTavish and Richard Townsend play cello and guitar.
Ofrenda means “offering” in Spanish. “Ofrendas are artful displays, honoring departed loved ones or mourning all that is not life-giving in our world,” explained Plaster.
Townsend, who lost his 94-year-old grandmother “who was not supposed to ever die,” his brother-in-law, and his young friend Randall this year, will also be honoring his career transition on his personal ofrenda.
This year’s event is dedicated to the memory of St. Louis County Commissioner and Loaves and Fishes founder Steve O’Neil, who has been called “Duluth’s saint to the homeless.” Joel Kilgour, a member of the Loaves and Fishes community, will speak about O’Neil, who passed away in July. A hat will be passed to raise money for CHUM and Loaves and Fishes in O’Neil’s honor.
At 7 p.m. there will be a Funeral March for Rotten Ideas where people “can symbolically burn pieces of paper of things they want to let go of and then fire dancers light fire from these ideas and turn them into art,” said Plaster.
Families can also participate in the festivities by wearing black, dressing in skeleton costumes, and painting their faces. The Ladyslipper Dance belly dancers, the Spin Collective fire dancers, and the Magic Smelt stilters will all take part in the celebration.
At 8 p.m. the 18+ crowd is invited to Sacred Heart Music Center to view art in the Limbo Gallery created around the theme “Recuerdos,” which means “memories” in Spanish.
The bands “Portrait of a Drowned Man” and “Lion or Gazelle” will play and spoken-word artists will perform.
Also new to the event this year is an electronic fundraising campaign on the Indiegogo website to raise $5,000.
“There was a fabulous turnout and many folks who participated last year have been insistent that we do it again. That encouragement keeps me going in spite of many logistical obstacles, especially funding,” said Plaster.
To date, the Indiegogo campaign has raised $285. It needs $4,715 in donations to become fully funded. The money raised will go toward paying for space used this year, securing venues for next year, and small stipends for the participating artists.
“It would be much more likely for the event to continue if there were funds …. If everyone who went pitched in $5 to $10 it would make it really worth it,” said Jillian Forte, a fire dancer who will also emcee the ceremony this year. The Spin Collective alone burns $30 to $40 in fuel to participate in the event.
“Mary Plaster is just incredibly talented.... I don’t think anyone can imagine the unbelievable amount of work that goes into this. She’s pulling together something really, really valuable here,” said Townsend.
If you receive the Budgeteer early you may be able to donate to the fundraising campaign, which ends on Oct. 26. Visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/duluth-all-souls-night.
If you go
WHAT: All Souls Night Celebration
*WHERE: The Depot, 506 W. Michigan Street
WHEN: 6-8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2
COST: Free; freewill donation at the door.
*An after-party will be held for the 18-and-older crowd at Sacred Heart Music Center, 201 W. 4th Street. Cost: $5