Día de los Muertos celebrations underway around Chicago area, ofrendas honor deceased loved ones

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Wednesday, November 1, 2023
Día de los Muertos celebrations underway around Chicago area
Many families are celebrating Día de los Muertos, or 'Day of the Dead,' in the Chicago area on Wednesday and Thursday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many families are celebrating Día de los Muertos, or "Day of the Dead," in the Chicago area Wednesday and Thursday.

A large ofrenda has been set up along Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Another display can be found in the city's Pilsen neighborhood.

The altars display pictures and mementos to honor deceased loved ones for the traditional Mexican holiday.

Día de los Muertos is a time for celebrating life and that's exactly what they are doing at the Shrine of Our lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines.

"We transform sadness into joy," said Shrine of Our Lady of Guadelupe Rev. Esequiel Sanchez. "We do this as a community."

The events at Our Lady of Guadalupe get underway Thursday night followed by a mass and outdoor celebration with music and dancing.

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Día de los Muertos is a tradition that goes back about 3,000 years, offering families a way to remember those who have died.

Many Hispanic families will set up their own ofrendas in front of a cross. It is a solemn but joyous event as they remember lost loved ones.

A Pilsen resident, Isabel Hernandez, created a 15-foot-tall display, including more than 250 pictures.

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"It's the one day of the year we can truly remember in the best light those no longer with us," said Ernesto Gonzalez with Urban Warriors.

Gonzalez sponsored an altar at 360 Chicago, near the top of the former John Hancock tower. He prepared food, drink and other favorite things that the departed enjoyed on Earth for the ofrenda that overlooks amazing views of the city.

The video screen on the altar displays photos, including one of his grandparents. Anyone can add additional photos of loved ones by linking to a QR code. It will be up all week leading up to a celebration Friday evening.

Gonzalez believes it would make his grandparents happy.

"I know they're looking down at this and saying 'who would've thought,'" Gonzalez said.