This Saturday, Commercial Street will be filled with festive music and entertainment as the community celebrates Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

“It’s where we celebrate the passing of our loved ones,” said Sally Sanchez, artistic director of Raices Hispanas, a dance group performing in the event. “And we have to continue that going on because if it doesn’t then they die off and they’re never heard of and that’s sad.”

The Dia de los Muertos Celebration will be held from 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Oct. 30 on the 900 block of Commercial Street. There will be a parade starting at 10:30 a.m. and trick or treating from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

The event was organized by Hispanics of Today and Tomorrow (HOTT) along with Visit Emporia and Emporia Main Street.

One group performing is Latin Fit, a Latin Zumba group that comes together to dance and exercise while performing in events around town and at Emporia State.

The group has roughly 30 members and ranges in age from around three to over 60 years old and anyone is welcome to join.

Latin Fit currently practices outside due to COVID-19 safety and a lack of space they can go inside.

“(We are outside) for COVID reasons right now and also right now we don’t have our own place,” said Edyth Hernandez, leader of Latin Fit. “That’s (what) we’re trying to look for (to) have our own place but right now we’re just doing outside.”

While October is bringing in colder weather, that doesn’t stop the group from coming together to dance and practice for Dia de los Muertos.

“They always come,” Hernandez said. “They always show up and then we have a good time either if it’s cold or hot.”

Another group performing at the celebration is Raices Hispanas

(Hispanic Roots), a group made up of children from ages 4-18. Raices Hispanas also practices outside at Peter Pan Park, largely due to a lack of indoor space.

“We’re outside for one for safety reasons because of COVID,” Sanchez said. “And then two, we really don’t have an indoor place to practice. We used to practice inside a couple of the school gyms but because of COVID as well, they’re not letting too many people into their facilities.”

COVID-19 has effected the group in more than just making them practice outside.

“This year we lost a bunch because of COVID,” Sanchez said. “I think we’re down to 8 out of 18, so we lost about ten.” 

The group allows for children to celebrate and learn about their Culture.

“It’s important for them to not lose their culture,” Sanchez said. “Especially this younger generation, I mean that’s why I have the dance group, because I don’t want this part of the culture to die off.”

Raices Hispana is part of HOTT and gets their costumes from that Organization.

“They (HOTT) try as much as they can to preserve traditions pertaining to the Hispanic community and the city of Emporia,” said Jorge Britez Aveiro, Assistant Online Program Coordinator at ESU and member of HOTT.

The Dia de los Muertos Celebration is open to the public and will be a day full of music, entertainment, and food for everyone to enjoy to celebrate the day and embrace the culture.

“There is always a lot of positivity in learning from other people’s backgrounds and find out why they celebrate something,” Aveiro said.

This event is open to everyone to attend, not just Hispanics.

“Everybody’s invited to the events we put on,” Sanchez said. “It’s not just for Hispanics it’s for everybody and we want to showcase our culture to the community. So we would like for everybody to come out.”

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