'We have seen that the traditions from Mexico have been getting lost'
CICERO, Ill. (WLS) -- Hundreds of families in west suburban Cicero packed into Unity Junior High School Saturday to mark the Day of the Dead and remember loved ones who have passed on.
For some ceremonies like this one are a critical way of passing on Mexican heritage from one generation to the next.
"It's all about each other and it's all about family," said Dr. Aldo Calderin, Superintendent, Cicero School District 99.
Students like sixth-grader Valeria Ruiz handmade a personal and colorful Trees of Life, which were on display at the ceremony.
"It's important to celebrate the dead and the people who you loved, how they died and you can remember them in memory," said Ruiz.
Maria Gonzalez brought her two young daughters to the ceremony, fully immesring them in the cultural significance of the holiday.
"We have seen that the traditions from Mexico have been getting lost," said Gonzalez. "We're not in Mexico, they can at least experience a little of what Mexico does."
Maria and her daughters created their own tree of life with each skull representing a family member who has passed.
"I love to do art with the girls and to bring the culture from Mexico because for me it's important to keep on with the traditions," said Gonzalez.
It's a deeply meaningful tradition that's maintained at the school.
"We're about the past. We're about each other and we help one another become better," said Calderin.