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Mancos schools celebrate Dia de los Muertos

District marks day with parade, food, music and dance

The Mancos School District held its fourth annual Dia de los Muertos Festival on Thursday.

Dia de los Muertos is a cultural holiday celebrated throughout Latin America and the United States. Families and friends gather to celebrate and remember loved ones who have passed.

Andrew Saletta, K-12 music teacher at Mancos Schools, along with Kim Russell, former art teacher, began the festival four years ago.

“It has since gone on to include the amazing efforts of our new art teacher, Alys Hansen, and Martha Endres, our ELL (English-language learner) teacher and Spanish Club leader, Saletta said in an email, “Plenty of other teachers have also contributed wonderful projects throughout the years too, but the names mentioned have been the big ones making it all happen.”

Saletta spent time in Albuquerque and attended a few Dia de los Muertos festivals there and thought it would be good to bring the tradition to light because of the large Spanish population in Mancos.

“We teach the students a little of the history of Dia de los Muertos and its religious traditions, but how it can kind of become a secularized version,” Saletta said. “We can simply use art, music, dance, cultural and history project to remember our ancestors.”

The event included a parade down Grand Avenue, food from Chavolos Mexican Restaurant, music and traditional dancing from the students and free face painting from the Spanish Club.

“We started out with a parade right out there, and my band played a tune, “La Bamba,” we just marched around,” Saletta said. “I encouraged all of our parade participants to just reflect on loved ones who we may miss and our ancestors and take this opportunity to think about that.”

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