NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Halloween is tonight. Saturday and Sunday mark All Saints' and All Souls' days. They're traditionally observed by a "dia de los muertos," or the day of the dead festival.
One such festival is scheduled for Saturday night in downtown Nacogdoches.
Playful skeletons, colorful banners, and serene art depicting ordinary people as saints are some examples of what you'll see at the Dia de los Muertos Fiesta, or the day of the dead observance. Holding to Mexican tradition, it's when the goodness of life, not death, is celebrated.
"It's really the belief that the dead are still with us and that they return on November 1 and 2 to visit their families," said John Handley, the director of the Cole Art Center. "So families will go out and very festively decorate the graves. They'll picnic in the cemeteries."
Stephen F. Austin State University's Cole Art Center isn't taking the traditional observance that far, but they are highlighting festival symbols, beginning with a display of retablos.
"A small altar piece that would depict a saint, the Virgin, or St. Francis or St. Anthony," Handley said.
Artists from the area donated their art for a silent auction. It's a creative way to give back to the School of Art.
Tomorrow's event is more than a fundraiser.
There will be community altar for tributes to friends and loved ones who have passed away. Also, Church Street will come alive with hundreds partying in the street.
"We're setting it up like a mercado, a Mexican market, where you can walk the street and there are all sorts of things to buy and eat," said Lisa Steed, the galleries events coordinator.
The highlight for festival goers' participation will be a day of the dead foot procession led by the Chikawa Aztec dancers.
"The procession will be a traditional people procession with lit candles where they parade on the streets," Steed said.
Last year's premiere event unexpectedly attracted more than 700 festival goers. This year, organizers know how to plan. The crowd shouldn't scare you off. It's a cultural and community celebration designed for the entire family.
The Dia de los Muertos Fiesta is Saturday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. along Church Street and at the Cole Art Center.
The foot procession begins at 6:45 p.m. on Commerce Street. Arrive early to have your face painted for the role.