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Los Dorados prepares for its Good Friday procession, a uniquely Tucson tradition for 56 years

Procession and Easter Sunday sunrise service open to all
Posted: 1:12 PM, Apr 07, 2023
Updated: 2023-04-07 16:12:06-04
Dozens carry cross up A-mountain on Good Friday

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A Tucson tradition more than a half-century running continues this weekend, beginning on Good Friday afternoon at the base of A Mountain.

The group Los Dorados Orphan League has held La Procesion De Viernes Santo—a procession of faithful carrying a 250-pound cross—up Sentinel Peak for 56 years now. This year's procession will begin around 4 p.m. on Friday, April 7.

"That's Tucson Culture," says Antonio Piña. "This is born and raised in the Barrio."

David Herrera started the tradition with others from his neighborhood in the 1960s, when Tucson looked and felt a lot different than it does today. The cross, much like the fabric of the city itself, has undergone a transformation since Herrera first got it started.

"The original cross, when they first started back in 1966—this was a bunch of kids from the Barrio. They got a big solid piece of wood. They had to hold it up there with rocks," says Piña.

Now the cross they carry has a more polished look, but it too carries its own history. Herrera, who was born on Easter Sunday in 1921 and passed away in 2017, built this one about 35 years ago.

It's weatherized, to withstand Tucson's extreme elements, and is secured with a new set of screws—upgraded in recent years from the original nails that held it together.

Once it reaches the end of the procession atop A Mountain, the cross is erected where the group will keep vigil until Easter Sunday sunrise service.

Good Friday cross processions and the stations of the cross are not unique to Tucson—they make up part of the Good Friday observance by practicing Christians, particularly within the Catholic Church, around the world.

Still, the cross itself, and the community behind the local tradition, offers a portrait unique to Tucson and its people.

The 14 Stations of the Cross are performed on the way to the top of the peak: "Every station we stop, and we allow people to switch out." Piña says this allows more people to take part. And it's not a small number of people.

"With all the hands that are being put on it—hundreds," says Piña.

The public is invited to attend year after year, no matter where they're from.

"We're gonna make sure that this tradition keeps going, to honor David Herrera in Tucson," Piña says.

Details to attend: La Procesion De Viernes Santo and La Servicio Al Amaneser

Heidi Alagha is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Heidi spent 5 years as the morning anchor in Waco where she was named the best anchor team by the Texas Associated Press. Share your story ideas and important issues with Heidi by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.