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.
Howard Hughes’ main confidant, Gordon Margulis, known to his many friends simply as “Gordie,” died at age 77 in a Las Vegas hospice after succumbing to cancer of the esophagus on March 25.
Margulis was perhaps the closest and probably most unlikely confidant to the reclusive Howard Hughes. It was Margulis who whisked a frail and mentally fractured Howard Hughes down the back stairs of the Desert Inn in 1970 to a waiting jet ambulance, being part of closing a historic era in Las Vegas history.
Gordie and Melvin Stewart cared for Hughes every day of his life and was one of the very few people allowed in to see him. While being part of the inner circle, always highly protective of Hughes’ oft-forgotten humanity, he also cooked for Hughes. Gordie also remained a valuable resource for authors seeking to understand the Hughes legend.
Margulis is survived by his wife, Helen, daughter Danielle, and sons Sean and Gordon. Services are scheduled for 11 a.m, on Monday, March 30 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church at 2300 Sunridge Heights Parkway in Henderson, Nevada.
You’re final resting place is supposed to be somewhere tranquil and peaceful. For some it’s a welcome relief to finally get away from it all.
But not necessarily if your cemetery plot happens to be in Las Vegas.
The classic Hatfield-McCoy feud has reemerged as residents and developers bitterly jaw about the plans for 9,000 new burial plots and 4,000 above-ground tombs at Buffalo Drive and Springs Road in Las Vegas.
Real estate developer William Gayler and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak met with irate NIMBY residents yesterday to discuss the matter. Both sides refused to budge.
Neighbors voiced fears of the cemetery will hurt their property values; Gayler said that wasn’t his problem; and Sisolak chimed in saying there’s little he can do because a cemetery is allowed by the commercial zone for the 20 acres.
A judge today plans to review the dispute today and decide who is right. But ‘dem could be mere fighting words as Gayler said the cemetery will be built even if the judge rules against him. To bypass the ruling, Gayler simply has to get approval from those who own 51 percent of the lot (Gayler owns 25 percent) or persuade the court-appointed receiver to give the go-ahead.
For those waiting to rest there, though, they hope the issue soon becomes dead and buried.