MORRISANIA — Bronxites looking to celebrate Día de los Muertos this year can head over to Brook Avenue and East 163rd Street for a free street festival.
The Bronx Music Heritage Center, part of the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation, will put on the festivities from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 to celebrate the Mexican holiday meant to honor the dead.
"Halloween tradition is more commercial and ghoulish," said Kerry McLean, director of community development at WHEDco. "This is more really paying homage to those who have passed away."
Ramon Ponce, director of the band, stressed that Día de los Muertos was not meant to be a morbid holiday, despite its focus on death.
"It’s really not a sad day, but it’s like a festive day because they celebrate the souls," he said.
The music tends to reflect this upbeat mood, he continued.
"People request songs that the loved ones who are gone liked," he said. "So, you know, we can play anything, but it’s mostly lively music."
Traditional songs to celebrate the holiday include "La Bruja" and "Las Golondrinas," according to Ponce.
This is the first year that the Bronx Music Heritage Center has put together a Día de los Muertos celebration, and it is in keeping with the group's goal of celebrating different musical traditions in the borough, according to McLean.
It is also the first year that Mariachi Real De Mexico will perform at a Día de los Muertos celebration in The Bronx, and Ponce said he was very excited about it, especially given the borough's large Hispanic population.
"It’s always great to know that people are willing to come out with the tradition and the music," he said. "For us, it’s just a way to share our music and culture with other people from different parts of the city."