This weekend Las Vegas will celebrate the Day of the Dead, or El Día de los Muertos, the Mexican celebration of the dead.
The 9-year-old festival at the Winchester Cultural Center is the largest Day of the Dead celebration in Las Vegas, a city which enjoys celebrating all things dead.
This year 21 altars, some as large as 16 square feet, will welcome home the souls of loved ones who return to eat their favorite foods and be among living friends and family during the holiday.
Irma Wynants began the Las Vegas festival in 2001 at Prince of Peace Catholic Church with only eight ofrendas (altars) and a few performers.
Offerings are left on altars decorated with flowers, candles and incense. The dead are publicly remembered and shared. Mexican music and dance are celebrated, along with satirical poems (cavaleras) that are read aloud from stage.
There will even be workshop on how to make sugar skulls- but the elaborate, candlelit ofrendas are the main attraction. Made mostly by Mexican immigrants, they represent traditions held in the cities and states from which they came — Hidalgo (where they build little houses as altars), Mexico City, Michoacan and even Chihuahua, where families typically bring food and friendship to cemeteries on the holiday rather than build altars.
This year the ofrendas will reach out to immigrants who died attempting to cross the border. Another will reach out to people who have drowned in Lake Mead. And the Southern Nevada Agency Partnership is building an ofrenda dedicated to people who commit suicide on public land in the Mojave area. Another group plans to create a Michael Jackson ofrenda.