Monday, November 3, 2014

Day of the Dead celebrations 2014

This past weekend my mom and I went to the Day of the Dead celebrations in Milwaukee. You might remember my previous blog posts about these events. There's a parade, gallery show, and dance performance. People show a lot of creativity in their appearance and tributes to loved ones.

We saw something cool the minute we parked! It didn't have anything to do with the Day of the Dead, but it still needed to be photographed. This big witchy cat was on a circus cats van.

She's a little bit scary from this angle.

Before the parade, people waited in a decorated park. Paper mache skeletons, altars, and signs surrounded the group.

These skulls were 3D and double sided.

A half skull look:

This woman added some magic and mystery to the parade. She's carrying incense and the smoke was trailing behind her. This incense was pretty strong, because the scent of it was in my (washed) hair for days.

I love the way her blue eyes match the painted flowers on her face. Her eyes became such a part of her makeup that I had to do a double take to see if her eyes were open or if they were closed. I didn't notice until now that her eyes are the center of the flowers. I was taking these photos so fast and there are so many details, that I didn't catch some things until I got home and looked closer.

Part of one of the altars that was in the park:

The parade started and wrapped around what I think was 15 or so blocks.

I had a major zoom going on my camera because I was photographing the parade from far away. So accidentally, I ended up with some close-up portraits of people. These ended up being some of my favorite photos of the day:

Since the parade wrapped around many blocks, we had a choice of following behind it or cutting around to where it would end up. We decided to go to the finish because then we could see the parade head-on. While waiting for the parade to come back around, we looked in a few shop windows. There was this little skeleton/pumpkin man. The Spanish moss looked like a beard to me.

There was also a dressed up skeleton couple in the window.

I like how the buildings are reflected in these photos. It's like the skeleton is floating in a street scene.

The female skeleton had some snazzy shoes.

I'm not sure what this business was. A cake shop or wedding photographer? They also had a spider covered cake with a voodoo doll topper in the window.

The parade came back around the corner...

There were drummers:

Watch that tall skeleton in the back.

Take a peek under that skull. I thought he seemed extra tall! I'm still smiling looking at this picture.

A bird or a fish skeleton?

I love this photo! She was wearing a hat covered in felt flowers and one of those face masks like you'd wear on a motorcycle or to protect yourself from the wind. That sly look in her eye is the finishing touch.

A cute, warm little skeleton and a nice, happy skeleton:

I like how far away this woman is in my picture. There's all this stark, white space around her so she really stands out. There's something direct about it.

This was part of a moving skeleton sculpture on top of a car. It could spin and move around.

After watching the parade, we went inside the Walker's Point Center for the Arts. On the windows were paintings of skulls and monarch butterflies.

Papel Picado was hanging from the ceiling.

The gallery was full of ofrendas and Day of the Dead art.

I loved this! There are so many details to look at. Be sure to click on these photos to see them larger.

There are birds in the halo around the cat's head. What do you think that means?

A more traditional display:

A colorful, artistic tribute:

A miniature skeleton band:

After looking in the gallery we went back to the park to see the Aztec dance performance.

I like those skulls sewn onto their clothing.

Waiting to perform:


I ended up catching this guy's face between the feathers on a headdress.



This lady was on stilts.

I hope you enjoyed looking at this year's photos. Every year is different, but we can always count on seeing bright colors, beautiful clothing, and meaningful tributes. I feel so fortunate to be able to witness these celebrations.


  1. Thanks for sharing some great pics!

    1. Dex ~ I'm happy to share them! It's fun to take the pictures and then fun all over again posting them to my blog. It was nice to be able to attend the events and have something to share this year since last year the weather got in the way. I ended up with a lot more pictures than usual this time!

  2. This looks like such a marvelous event! I love the pictures and all of the details that you pointed out in so many of them. The make-up and the costumes are so colorful and creative. This makes me want to do a sugar skull makeup one year ;) I people in a few pictures carrying around small paper bags. It reminded me of the little bags of goodies that we used to give away at our St. Joseph's alter. I was curious if you knew what were in the little bags? I'm assuming that it's some sort of traditional foods or trinkets? Thanks for sharing this lovely parade with us!

    1. Heidi ~ It was! Thank you! I've dreamed of doing a sugar skull makeup look for some time. There are a lot of beautiful ideas out there. I don't know if you ever watch YouTube makeup tutorials, but there are countless skull makeup ideas there. This guy did a few cool Day of the Dead makeup tutorials:

      Mariachi Sugar Skull look

      His videos are always fun to watch.

      People were snacking on things that were in the bags as they walked along. A little girl came over and gave me some candy out of hers. :) So it appeared to be food and sweets. I'm not sure when everyone got the bags. Some time between the parade starting and ending, everyone seemed to have one. That's an interesting detail for you to notice! I have a feeling that most of the people reading this didn't notice those bags. Having given some away yourself, you'd probably be more likely to notice.

      I just read a little about St. Joseph altars. So this is a Sicilian Catholic tradition? Did you have your altar at home or at your church? I'm looking at some amazing altar photos right now. There are some really fancy breads in these photos! It looks like bread is a big part of this. I see some photos of brown bags with pictures of the saint on them. Thanks for mentioning your altar, because I just learned something!