Worlds collide at the Florida Day of the Dead parade

The souls of the departed return to party with their loved ones. Sounds like the plot of a zombie comedy, but it’s not. It’s the eighth annual Day of the Dead celebration in Fort Lauderdale, and it’s almost here.

Day of the Dead, an annual street party, hits downtown Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.

Jim Hammond, Day of the Dead parade organizer: “Day of the Dead is a traditional festival that is renowned in Mexico and throughout Latin America.”

It’s not your average celebration, that’s for sure.

Jim Hammond: “The door between the underworld, the world of the dead, and our world opens up on Nov. 2, and we can meet our ancestors, dance with them, play with them and have food with them.”

Don’t let the name of the event fool you. It may look scary, but it’s all in fun.

Jim Hammond: “Even though a lot of the iconography is skulls and skeletons, it really merges life, flowers, celebration, family.”

There are plenty of ways to connect with the spirits of the dearly departed at the event.

Jim Hammond: “Parades with puppets and masks and dancers.”

Even the makeup and costumes worn for the festival are symbols of the ties that bind.

Jim Hammond: “Each of the costumes that somebody selects may connect them with what’s really important to them and the people of their past.”

A major sense of joy definitely rules the day, but family members display their love for those who have passed in other ways.

Jim Hammond: “Number one, they celebrate it creating ‘ofrendas.’ ‘Ofrendas’ are traditional altars of remembrance.”

The altars include photos, candles, masks, personal belongings — you know, things that put a smile on the face of a spirit who’s come back to have a good time.

You can check them out at Fort Lauderdale’s New River Inn, the home base of the festival.

Jim Hammond: “Our Florida Day of the Dead celebration is gonna connect you, not only with your loved ones and yourself, it’s gonna connect you with the community.”

The eighth annual Day of the Dead celebration gets underway Thursday at 4 p.m. at Huizenga Park.

Be there, because everyone gets to be the life of the party.

Jim Hammond: “We take over the downtown Fort Lauderdale in this one-day celebration.”


Day of the Dead

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