Michiana celebrates Día de los Muertos

Acclaimed opera singer Vanessa Alonzo and Trio Chapultepec visited South Bend from Houston for the Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Morris Theatre.
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 1:35 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - For the first time in South Bend’s history, the Day of the Dead was organized as a community event.

People gathered at the Jon Hunt Plaza Sunday afternoon for Holy Cross Elementary School’s Day of the Dead recital, followed by the local band Los De San Rafael.

The crowd then moved inside the Morris Performing Arts Center and was treated to a concert by the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, folkloric dancing by Tierra Viva Ballet Folclorico, and the mariachi band Trio Chapultepec featuring acclaimed opera singer Vanessa Alonzo.

“We are celebrating the Day of the Dead for the first time in South Bend, a community-wide celebration,” said Dr. Marvin Curtis, board vice-president for the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. “So, we brought the community together to celebrate this important holiday in Mexican culture. The best part was that the Morris gave us the hall for free. With that going on, it allowed us to invite the community to come at no cost, and I think for a lot of people, it was the first time they’d been in the Morris Performing Arts Center.”

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday where deceased relatives are honored guests and celebrated with their favorite food, drinks, and music.

“Part of our thinking was the people that have never been to the Morris because they felt it wasn’t for them. So now, you can come, you see what it looks like, you’ve been to the plaza, you’ve been inside, you see the venue, and you felt welcome. And you have the music of your culture being played by the symphony, by the dancers, and by our guest artists.”

One local father explained why being open to other cultures is something he wants to instill in his children.

“A lot of people say that the kids are going to be bi-lingual, and a lot of people say, oh that’s great, they’ll be able to get a good job when they are older,” said South Bend resident Charlton Keultjes. “I say yeah, that’s fine too, but even better, they’re going to have better relationships with more people, as some of the best relationships I have is because of the language; I speak Spanish as well. They will be able to do that, and it’s great. They’ll be able to share their faith and their culture with more people and build great relationships. It’s awesome.”

This is the first year for the event, but organizers say this will not be the last. They also hope to celebrate more cultures and holidays in the near future.