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Denton celebrates Day of the Dead

Matt Olson, Copy Editor

Community members dance together during last year's Day of the Dead festival.
Community members dance together during last year’s Day of the Dead festival.

Saturday Oct. 24, Denton will play host to its own Day of the Dead Festival for the fifth year running. Weather-permitting, the event will begin at 11 a.m. and will continue until 9 p.m., with a final showing of the musical performance “Cirque Du Horror” at 9:30. The event will take place outside of E. Hickory St. and Industrial St.      

The Day of the Dead Festival may have its roots in the traditional Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, but the event is broader in range and scope than only celebrating the holiday. Creative and executive director of the event David Pierce shared: “I wanted something that existed as a happy medium between a harvest fest at a local church and a blood-and-guts haunted house. There’s a sense of innocence and a charm, for me at least, that’s always been associated with this time of the year.”    

The Denton festival sprang from a musical production Pierce has been working on. He elaborated: “This event grew out of a musical that I’ve been writing since 2009 called ‘Cirque Du Horror.’ I wrote the musical and decided to treat it like a variety cabaret show. Each number was a little vignette. They were all self-contained and featured a Halloween theme running through.”

The event will include various booths and vendors celebrating different aspects of the time of year, including Halloween, harvesting crops for winter, and the holiday for which the festival is held. Live music will play, along with Pierce’s “Cirque Du Horror.”   

One of the festival’s biggest draws is the coffin races. Pierce said: “The coffin races were a big addition. It’s almost its own festival within our festival. There may be people who come [to the festival] only to see the coffin races.”    

Pierce said of the way the event has grown over the years: “As we’ve developed, every year that we add some new element to the festival, every year has made me smile. It’s touched me. It’s been very impactful. The first year, it was a beautiful day. The weather was perfect. We thought maybe 500 people would show up, and throughout the whole day we had a couple thousand. Seeing everything that year, the pumpkin patch, the vendors who had dressed up their booths and played the part, that tricked everything up, it just blew my mind.”

Pierce elaborated on how the community has contributed: “The collaboration of a lot of our Denton artists that worked on creating a stage backdrop and art for streets and business was incredible. We had this coming-together of all this talent and work, all these people who dedicated their time.”

Rain is predicted for Saturday, but Pierce stressed that the event would happen regardless of rain. He concluded: “If this turns into serious weather, we would make announcements through all our social media. We’re hoping that maybe it’s a morning thing with rain showers and it dries up. Depending on that is when it could officially start.”

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