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DENTON, TX — The University of North Texas (UNT) community is engaging in a vibrant celebration of Día de los Muertos, a time-honored tradition honoring the deceased. On campus, the commemoration is marked by the erection of an ofrenda in the Language Building lobby, a practice facilitated by Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society.
Senior Kevin Guima highlighted the significance of this tradition, noting its role in promoting a deeper understanding and respect for Hispanic cultures. These altars pay tribute to influential figures in the Hispanic community, with past honorees including Selena Quintanilla and Frida Kahlo.
Sandra Mendiola García, associate professor of Latin American history, described the elaborate and symbolic nature of the altars which are adorned with items such as cempasúchil flowers, favorite foods of the departed, and candles to light their path.
The UNT community also engages with the local Denton Day of the Dead Festival, a cultural event that blends Día de los Muertos celebrations with fall and Halloween festivities. The festival features a variety of activities including a pumpkin patch, salsa cook-off, and coffin races.
Sophia Davis, a graduate student and member of UNT’s American Fisheries Society student subunit, revealed their coffin race entry named the ‘Ghost Fisher’, designed to raise awareness about endangered fish species and the impact of abandoned fishing gear on ecosystems.
The festival is not only a source of fun but also a means of community engagement, as expressed by David J. Anzaldúa Pierce, its founder and executive director. Moreover, the event supports local charities such as Serve Denton and Cumberland Youth & Family Services, adding a philanthropic layer to the celebrations.
The Day of the Dead events at UNT and in Denton showcase the area’s unique culture and commitment to community, education, and cultural appreciation.