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All Souls Procession 2021

2020 edition was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic
All Souls Procession past
Posted at 9:44 PM, Nov 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 07:11:02-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — For the first time in two years, tens of thousands are expected to gather on Tucson’s West Side for the 32nd annual All Souls Procession on Sunday evening.

The event, which begins at 6 p.m. on Grande Avenue just south of Speedway Boulevard, is a free, all-inclusive walk that allows people to grieve, honor and remember the dead.

COVID-19 canceled the 2020 edition of the Procession, which became a small ceremony at the MSA Annex for organizers and close friends.

“It was very intimate, it kind of brought me back to when we first started,” said Nadia Hagen, artistic director for non-profit Many Mouths One Stomach, which organizes the event each year.

Large crowds are expected to return once again this year, and preparing for them has been a bigger challenge for organizers this year.

Hagen says a volunteer shortage left only about 40 people working on the event, when typically that number is closer to 200.

“The folks that have stepped up to help us this year have stepped up like 10 times,” Hagen said, before admitting that there were even questions about whether to have an in-person procession at all this fall.

“The overwhelming response that we got when we asked folks is they feel like they really need it,” she said. “They really want that opportunity to just have a moment with everyone else in the community.”

The Procession will move from the starting point south along Grande, St. Mary’s Road and Bonita Avenue as well as along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk, also known as ‘The Loop.’

The ending point is the MSA Annex, where there is a growing memorial and a ‘Spirit Phone’ for people to communicate with loved ones who have passed.

For many, the pandemic has made this event and its outlets for grief even more important.

“I mean, with COVID, things are so hard for people,” Hagen said. “And people have really had to, like, face their own mortality in a way that maybe a lot of people never did.”

COVID-19 vaccinations and masks are ‘highly recommended’ for those participating, as is respect for other people’s space. The procession will also be live-streamed online.

Participants are encouraged to walk or take public transit with parking not allowed in adjacent neighborhoods. Street closures will be in place in the area Sunday evening to make room for the Procession.

Many Mouths One Stomach is also looking for more volunteers to help on Sunday or with clean-up efforts after the Procession. To learn more, you can visit the event’s official website.