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Thousands march in All Souls Procession

Posted at 2:48 PM, Nov 08, 2015
and last updated 2016-11-04 20:20:42-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tens of thousands of people marched through Tucson's downtown Sunday night for the annual All Souls Procession.

The well-known Tucson tradition is famous for painted faces, costumes, music, and more, but anyone marching in the procession will tell you it is about much more.

"These are my grandparents that passed away, it's been years now," said Hermenia Robichard pointed to a photo of her grandparents.

She participates in the procession every year to remember and honor friends and family who have died. The procession is intended for people to celebrate and mourn the lives of loved-ones and ancestors.

Robichard's face is painted like a skeleton and she is dressed in colorful clothing, common for the 150,000 participants who show up each year. With so many people, there is great variety in each walk.

"It's really, really neat to see how people express themselves," said Robichard.

"Sad it is not, we are here to remember the good times, only the good times," said Robert Hernandez, he is remembering his son.

As night falls, the procession begins. Leading the way is the Urn. Everyone is invited to make offerings which are burnt in the final ceremony. Many people write notes with prayers, names of loved ones, dreams, or habits they are trying to kick.

Following the Urn, the thousands of others marching in the procession begin the two-mile walk. They start on 6th St. and go under the bridge into downtown where they make their way to Mercado San Agustin.

People remember, honor, or celebrate anything in the the All Souls Procession from pets, to causes, to people.

Yesenia Alvarez is marching with her family to remember her two brothers who died in 2009.

"It helps to know you are not the only one out there," she said as she marched.

Alvarez says she likes to do something different every year for the procession. This year she had both colorful face paint and costume. Her family was pushing a lit-up wagon with two little girls riding inside. Decorating the wagon, photos of the two men who died, lights, and special notes.

The All Souls Procession ends in a lot near Mercado San Agustin for the Finale.

Tens of thousands gather for live music, dancers, even pyrotechnics. The ceremony ends with the burning of The Urn. It is lifted high in the air by a crane and lit on fire for everyone to see. 

The All Souls Procession began in 1990 ceremonial performance piece by a local artist, Susan Johnson. The idea is to celebrate and mourn the lives of loved ones and ancestors. It has grown since, now attracting crowds of more than 150,000 people.

Many Mouths One Stomach is the non-profit group that organizes the event each year.