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Día de los Muertos lures souls (video)

By Carolina Astrain
Nov. 3, 2012 at 6:03 a.m.
Updated Nov. 4, 2012 at 5:04 a.m.


MAKE YOUR OWN

Want to build your own altar in memory of someone you love?

Here's how to make yours in a few easy steps:

1) Remember: What did this person like? You'll have to grab a bunch of random things they enjoyed while alive.

2) Build: Form a sturdy structure from cardboard or wood to paste the nostalgic bits on.

3) Glue: Depending on how heavy the found favorites are, use a glue stick or glue gun to paste everything together.

4) Cook: Make their favorite dish or simply grab a can of their preferred type of beans or fruit to add on the display.

5) Show: Place your altar in a visible area for friends and family to see.

They were getting ready to ring in the new year, when a firecracker let out a loud rippling sound.

The burst frightened Eddie Chavez and Beto DeLeon's dog Xolotl (or Cho-lot) into a panicked escape from their San Antonio, second-story duplex.

The couple received a call in response to a flier they had posted during their four-day search. The caller said he had found the black Chihuahua by his home, lifeless on the side of the road.

A blue and yellow doggie-house altar with chew toys and collars, sat behind a vendor's booth on DeLeon Plaza on Saturday morning.

Vendors and community members were celebrating Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a Mexican, Catholic tradition in which altars are made in memory of the deceased.

Chavez and DeLeon brought their handmade artisan soaps and sugar skulls after hearing about the event through the Nave Museum's email list.

"This is our first time to do this in Victoria," said the artist, a Victoria native. "For us, it's not so much sad, but more about celebrating the memories of the important people that have come through our lives."

A march from St. Mary's Catholic Church to the Nave Museum kicked off the event.

The festival was started by Nave Museum board member John Moraida, who said he saw a need for more diverse programs in the Crossroads.

New to the 4-year-old festival were a car show hosted by the Hellions Car Club and extended vendor space on the plaza.

The museum budgeted about $15,000 for the event, and Moraida said he collected $1,250 from local donors.

The Tivoli native looked back in tears of joy at new faces among the marchers.

"I can't believe all of this has finally happened," said Moraida. "Events like these help bring all of us together."

Carlissa Gutierrez, 13, carried an altar tray covered with gold stars for her grandfather, Johnny G. DeLeon, known for wearing gold jewelry, and her cousin Isaiah Ramirez, a stillborn baby.

Next to the Stroman Middle School student, Jacklyn Gonzales, 13, had a Beatles album on her tray in honor of her uncle Freddy Garcia, who committed suicide.

Tears welled up in Jacklyn's eyes as she reminisced about old times with her uncle.

Oils dripped from her skull-painted face in the midmorning heat.

"We're the only Hispanics on our street," said the Howell Middle School eighth-grader. "Events like these are important because they bring us closer to our traditions."

Her tears were met by the brassy sound of a trumpet and guitar strumming nearby the museum's cement stairwell.

The mariachis, robed in black, elegant suits and red moños, serenaded the mourners recalling their dead.

"I still have dreams about Xolotl," said Chavez. "I'll see him running down a street until he disappears again."

Orange petals from the Aztec cempasúchil flower, thought to bring out the dead souls, rustled in the wind as Chavez and DeLeon sold their goods to cheerful passers-by.

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