On Saturday evening, Alex and I ventured out to one of my favorite DTSA night… Night of the Altars. Family members set up elaborate altars (ofrendas) to honor the memory of their lost loved ones. Many believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of the deceased are allowed to reunite with their families. The ofrendas are decorated with sugar skulls, candles, marigolds, and bread called pan de muerto. Sugar skulls represent a departed soul and is placed on the ofrenda to honor the return of a particular spirit. This tradition has been transported to the faces of the attendees with hundreds of people adorning face paint to make the sugar skull come to life.
We began our night with Dinner at the new (and amazing) restaurant El Mercado, which serves tapas style modern Mexican cuisine and inventive cocktails. Our waitresses, of course, donned sugar skull face paint. Alex’s cocktail arrived in a glass cloche full of smoke, which was unveiled at the table with a puff of smoke surrounding our table. Talk about immersive.
We then headed to Art Walk, which is traditionally held on the same night as Night of the Altars, and viewed both static and live art displays. My favorite display this year was a colorful forest of foraged cardboard, which had been painted in vibrant colors and you could wander through the “trees” and see all the different designs. Alex’s favorite was definitely a photo of Hume Lake, his childhood (and adulthood, really) home away from home.
Finally, we headed to the main attraction, which was the altars where we were surrounded by hundreds of people, both live and made-to-look-not-alive. On both sides of the street, candles glowed, and paper flowers were illuminated by the dim light. At the end of the street, a jazzy big band played Mexican music.
As I wrote in my original Night of the Altars post, I was surprised to find Mr. Ward of Santa Ana Winds on an altar. Apparently, Mr. Ward continues to take the opportunity to reunite with his “Winds” family. This night, one of the assistants to the band members approached me while I was listening to them play, and asked… “Weren’t you in “Winds”?” I was surprised, and the man in front of me smiled and said, “I was too, I played trumpet.” As he walked back to the band, I smiled and thanked Mr. Ward for the music, and his legacy.