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Friday's Day of the Dead Celebrations Delayed, Canceled by Hurricane Sandy

By Alan Neuhauser | November 2, 2012 3:45pm

NEW YORK — The spirits will simply have to wait.

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrations around the city have been postponed or completely canceled due to the power outages and transit delays caused by Hurricane Sandy.

From Mano a Mano's enormous four-day Dia de los Muertos celebration in the East Village to Adrian Roman's more informal gathering in Sunset Park, Hispanic cultural organizations across New York are waiting for the lights to flicker to life before lighting candles to remember the dead.

"It's kind of a headache," said Juan Aguirre, 32, Mano a Mano's. "It really depends on the power. If it comes back, we'll try to do the event within 24 hours."

Dia de los Muertos, traditionally a Mexican holiday, honors and celebrates the lives of late friends, relatives and ancestors. Observers typically light candles and leave flowers, photos and small mementos at altars that have been specially made for the occasion.

"The concept of these offerings is so when the spirit of this person does come to be with you for this evening of celebrating their life, they have the things that make them comfortable," said Adrian Roman, 35, who organized Sunset Park's Dia de los Muertos event.

"You put the food and things that they liked. If they smoked tobacco, you'll probably want to have some tobacco. Certain things of candy that they liked." 

Roman has rescheduled the Sunset Park celebration, which is scheduled to take place outside Trinity Lutheran Church on 46th Street, for Nov. 9. Aguirre said Mano a Mano could start its celebration as early as Sunday if power is restored Saturday, as anticipated by Con Ed and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"A lot of people have said that it doesn't have the same value and the same meaning if it isn't done on the same day, Nov. 2, but I remind them that the day used to be in the summer," Aguirre said, explaining that Day of the Dead celebrations once lasted as long as 40 days.

"It doesn't matter when we do it," he added. "It matters we do it with respect and love."