The living party to honor deceased: Kensington bash celebrates Day of the Dead

The living party to honor deceased: Kensington bash celebrates Day of the Dead
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

This party was dead on arrival!

Locals packed a Kensington elementary school on Saturday to honor their deceased ancestors while savoring festive food and music at a Day of the Dead celebration filled with authentic Mexican flavor, according to attendees.

“It was beautiful,” said Mayra Cruz, who lives in the neighborhood and came out to the bash with her mom, sister, and daughter. “It was our first time experiencing Mexican culture like that.”

Cruz and other revelers crowded inside Avenue C’s PS 179 to partake in the festivities ahead of the three-day holiday, which occurs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

Traditional Mexican dancers and musicians from Queens-based mariachi band Mariachi Fiesta Mexicana treated attendees to performances during the five-plus-hour fiesta, which also featured activities including face painting and lighting the ofrenda — a ritual altar where candles and objects are placed to honor late loved ones during the holiday.

Decorations including homemade skeletons and a crop of brightly colored paper flowers made the space even more enchanting, according to a Bensonhurst resident who joined in the fun to help paint faces and watch her cousins participate in one of the event’s many dances, she said.

“They had different types of dances, like back in the times of the traditional dances,” said makeup artist Diana Veliz.

And organizers served a free Mexican feast that included tamales, tacos, Mexican sweet bread, and arroz con leche, a traditional dessert that is similar to a rice pudding, which Cruz called scrumptious.

“It was delicious,” she said.

Members of neighborhood group the Kensington Stewards organized the bash for the third year in a row, and originally planned to host it at the outdoor Avenue C plaza bounded by that road and McDonald Avenue, but relocated it to inside the school at the eleventh hour due to inclement weather.