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Downtown library celebrates Día de los Muertos

The Grand Rapids Public Library is hosting 20 altars created by Grand Rapids residents to honor the deceased and offers educational family activities during Día de los Muertos.
An ofrenda designed by local residents to honor their deceased loved ones

An ofrenda designed by local residents to honor their deceased loved ones /Courtesy of GRPL

Underwriting support from:

Dia de lost muertos events

Exhibit and all events are held at the GRPL Main Library at 111 Library Street NE.

Sugar skull decoration, face painting
November 2
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
A free event for children and families.

Hispanic Genealogy Program
November 2
1:00 p.m -3:00 p.m.
For those interested in tracing their geneaology, GRPL offers this Hispanic specific program. 

/Courtesy of GRPL

/Courtesy of GRPL

Starting October 31 through November 3, the downtown branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) will honor the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos. The celebration features 20 locally made altars, called ofrendas, that honor the lives of friends and family who have passed on.  

"It is a powerful, powerful thing to walk into the room with all the altars set up," says Kristen Kreeger-Corrado, GRPL's Marketing and Communications Manager. "You can't leave unmoved. It is an amazing experience."

Each ofrenda contains objects placed as gifts to the deceased, as well as sugar skulls, photos, flowers and religious items. The ofrenda also contains the elements of water, wind, fire and earth, symbolized by a pitcher or glass, candles, punched paper and food. The food is traditionally represented by pan de muerto, or "bread of the dead."   

"We have school groups come in, and we have a lot of Spanish classes come to learn about the holiday," says Kreeger-Corrado. "We have different groups who are interested in building altars. We have a girl scout troop building an altar, and we have different organizations and people who are doing it personally. It really truly is a reflection of our community and what people value in our community."

The library will also host family activities on November 2. From 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. activities include decorating sugar skulls, face painting and light refreshments. Additionally on November 2 at 1:00 p.m. GRPL will host a Hispanic Genealogy program. 

"You can come and actually learn how to use the library's databases and other material to learn how to research your families history if you are from Mexico or Central or South America," says Kreeger-Corrado. "We have experts on staff who can come and help you do that kind of research. We have a remarkable amount of databases online, research material and actual physical documents to help you find any kind of information you need but specifically if you are doing your family history."

Kreeger-Corrado stresses that Día de los Muertos is not a time for grief or sadness for families.

"We really want people to understand that this is a time of celebration," she says. "It's a time to honor the spirit of those who've passed on." 

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