Day of the Dead Aurora celebration spreads art, ofrendas all over downtown

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Celebrated on November 1 and 2, Day of the Dead is a uniquely Mexican holiday dedicated to remembering, honoring and celebrating loved ones who have passed on.

One of the most visible ways the dead are honored is through art, and it's that art that is taking over downtown Aurora for next 30 days.

"The loss of a loved one is also a sad thing, but I think the Mexican culture turns it into a very beautiful tradition to honor the dead and remember they are always with you," said Pierre Lucero, artist.

Aurora has been celebrating Day of the Dead of the last several years. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those celebrations have been reimagined in a way that can be enjoyed by all without the need for large gatherings.

"We want to still support small businesses and restaurants," said Marissa Amoni, Aurora Downtown. "With that in mind, we really had to think outside the box, be creative."

Up and down Broadway more than a dozen businesses commissioned artwork customized to each of them. OFrendas, or "offerings," are set up in their windows, while others display brightly colored hand-painted skulls and Catrinas for purchase. The displays attract people downtown for self-guided tours, scavenger hunts and maybe a margarita or two.

"It's not about death, it's about celebrating life," said Jose 'Art' Sanchez, artist.

"Last year my, unfortunately, my father passed away and it was my first time honoring the dead, really close one to me," Lucero said. "Just recently I started looking into the holiday itself and appreciating just how beautiful it is."

Aurora's Skull City celebrations will continue through November 15, with some limited in-person events along with online content for those who prefer to celebrate at home.
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