Día de Muertos celebration in Lawrence to honor gun violence victims

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The Lawrence community is invited to a Día de Muertos event that will include a community altar honoring gun violence victims.

In celebration of the holiday, Somos Lawrence, a partner of Lawrence’s Ballard Center that focuses on outreach to Spanish-speaking folks, is hosting the event.


“This year, ‘Somos Lawrence’ is honored to host internationally renowned artist Juan Hernández, who has conducted workshops in our community, and is co-designing the main Offering,” according to information from Araceli Masterson-Algar.

Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a time when communities and families set up ofrendas, or altars, that honor their ancestors. Rooted in Indigenous Mexican culture, the holiday allows people to commune with their deceased loved ones and honor their memories with celebrations.

At the Lawrence event, there will be a community altar to honor “people who have died by firearm suicide, homicide, or unintentional shooting. The art will celebrate victims’ lives and the legacy they leave for survivors,” according to Moms Demand Action, one of the event’s partners.

Some community members will also set up smaller, personal ofrendas in the garden area.

The celebration is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2 at John Taylor Park, 200 N. Seventh St. in North Lawrence. It’s free to attend and open to the public.

“Hot chocolate and Mexican sweet bread will be served,” according to Masterson-Algar. “The setting up of the community altars will begin at 8:30 a.m., and everyone is welcome through the day to drop by, and contribute with flowers, notes, artwork, pictures of loved ones, and other meaningful offerings.”

The Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council funded the project to build the ofrenda as part of the 2023 Natural and Cultural Heritage Grant awards, according to the county’s website. Other partners that have joined Somos Lawrence and the Ballard Center include the Percolator Arts Collective, Common Ground community gardening and urban agriculture program, Moms Demand Action, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Visit this link and click the green bookmark icon to learn more and add this event to your Google, Apple, Outlook or other calendar.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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