Covering the Land of Lincoln

Rockford celebrates Day of the Dead

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Bright colors, flowers and sugar skulls lined Rockford’s S. Main Street Saturday, all in celebration of Día de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead.”

“When you do the ofrenda you put something that honors and reminds you of them, something, their favorite food, their favorite drink, pictures, things that they loved,” said local Anita Luna.

It is believed that the souls of the deceased return during Day of the Dead. The gazebo at the Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S Main St, was transformed into a public ofrenda. Anyone can leave pictures or items that remind them of their departed family.

“I live in the home that they purchased 60 something years ago,” Luna said. “They started their family here, they, we all grew up here, so it’s really nice to remember them in a happy way, especially with the community now.”

Luna said that her dad passed away in 2006 and her mom in 2009. She honored her parents with the community on Saturday. Local artists, like Brett Whitacre, used their skills to decorate business windows along S. Main.

“We’re honoring the dead through these Sugar Skulls,” Whitacre said. “And for me, I’m honoring my mom, who died in 2014, and, so, I have dragonflies to symbolize her.”

Jocelyn McLaughlin, president of the Ethnic Heritage Museum, said that this was for everyone to gather together, share stories, laugh and celebrate their loved ones’ lives.

“People’s stories, so learning more and seeing what is important to the memories of the people that will be on the ofrenda and who we’re honoring,” McLaughlin said.

“It keeps them alive in our hearts and in our minds,” Luna added.

Luna hopes that the Rockford community will take part in the Mexican tradition and share it will others for many years to come.

“I think it’s great to include everybody so they can honor their people too, you know,” she said. “It should be a community thing. I love it.”

The multi-day celebration ends November 6.

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