Leaders of downtown Moline’s Mercado On Fifth say they are “excited” and “ecstatic” about the 1st Annual Día de los Muertos Parade which is set to step off on Saturday, Oct. 22.
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion. It is celebrated each year from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
“We are so ecstatic that we can hardly contain our enthusiasm!” the downtown Moline outdoor marketplace said on Facebook when it announced the “first-of-its kind” event. “A huge THANK YOU to our first-year sponsor, R3 Roofing & Exteriors, for helping to make this possible.”
“The QC is our home,” added Brad Matthews, the roofing company’s co-owner and chief operating officer. “We started our first business in the area about 10 years ago. Since then, we’ve grown alongside our community and are thankful to be able to support the growth of something new and exciting for everyone in the QC.”
Anamaria Rocha, Mercado’s executive director, said the organization first began having conversations about the parade last year. Leaders had noticed a void in Moline Halloween parades recently, perhaps due, in part, to COVID-19. “So it was a good opportunity to bring the Day of the Dead here,” she added.
While Day of the Dead is not about Halloween, Ms. Rocha said, it does occur around the same time of the year. In addition, she said, Mercado leaders had been looking for a way for the Hispanic community to share the “very beautiful meaning” of Dia de los Muertos with its customers and the Quad Cities community.
Mercado, which typically ends its Friday night outdoor markets by Sept. 29 for the season, also chose the Oct. 22 parade date as it coincides with the Figge Art Museum’s Day of the Dead exhibit, Ms. Rocha said.
According to Heather Aaronson, education programs coordinator for the Figge in downtown Davenport, the Dia de los Muertos Family Fiesta – a bi-annual exhibit featuring Day of the Dead – kicks off Sunday, Oct. 16. The family fiesta features traditional foods, performances, art-making, and displays.
“We have a collection of handmade Catrinas, and feature a traditional altar in partnership with LULAC Council 10,” Ms. Aaronson said. The Catrinas and altar will be on display from Oct. 16 through the actual Día de los Muertos holiday (Nov. 1-2). There also is an audio tour.
Ms. Aaronson said the fiesta’s timing was coordinated with Mercado so that guests could participate in both. “The Mercado is planning on joining us at the Figge, and the Figge is planning on joining the parade,” she said.
Now that the Dia de los Muertos Parade and celebration is beginning to shape, Ms. Rocha said, “It makes us very happy.”
The Day of the Dead is so important to Mercado’s leaders “it’s even part of our logo,” Ms. Rocha added. The organization’s logo as well as other materials promoting the upcoming parade are from a professional photography shoot that featured Ms. Rocha and friends dressed in Day of the Dead makeup and costumes.
Also among those celebrating the new parade addition is Janessa Calderon, executive director of the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GQCHCC).
“It is an honor to have a community as welcoming as the Quad Cities to embrace such events as this one,” Ms. Calderon said. “The Day of the Dead Parade will give the Latino community an opportunity to showcase our historically rich culture and the importance of Dia de los Muertos. It celebrates life and death in a magical and beautiful form.”
“The Hispanic Chamber is happy to work with Mercado on Fifth and other great organizations in the area, to make this a very successful inaugural parade,” Ms. Calderon added. “With an open mind, we can learn so much about the cultures around us and celebrate together.”
Visit Quad Cities also is partnering with Mercado on Fifth to help the event attract a more regional audience, Ms. Rocha said.
Parade entry registration will open in late April for the fall event centered around a holiday that has deep spiritual meaning to those who celebrate it, Ms. Rocha said. She’s hoping that it will “inspire families to create floats in honor of their loved ones.”
For those interested in taking part in the Dia de los Muertos parade, entries are required to showcase the parade celebration theme. No plain-clothed or un-themed entries and/or participants will be allowed.
When the registration period opens, Mercado said, the parade entry categories will be include: Día de los Muertos themed floats; specialty units/groups (including families); marching musical units; equestrian units; vehicle clubs; commercial/business entries; and nonprofit groups/school clubs.
Participants with questions about the theme, costumes, or floats should email email@example.com.