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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Latinos en Evanston North Shore celebrates Day of the Dead at ETHS

Edward Simon Cruz/The Daily Northwestern
LENS organizers built and decorated the community altar at the center of Friday’s Day of the Dead celebration.

Latinos en Evanston North Shore hosted its annual Day of the Dead celebration at Evanston Township High School on Friday to honor and remember community members’ deceased loved ones. 

The Day of the Dead, or “Día de los Muertos,” is celebrated annually on Nov. 1 and 2 throughout Mexico and other countries in Latin America. Participants observe the holiday through various traditions like building home altars, offerings and gathering as a community. 

LENS members started to build and decorate a community altar on Oct. 25 from scratch with the help of ETHS volunteers and operations staff members. Community members filled the altar with offerings and photographs of loved ones. 

The altar will be on display at ETHS for students, staff and visitors until at least Nov. 6. 

“A lot of immigrants, they come and their heritage fades away, but our mission is to proudly celebrate, proudly bring (our heritage) to our students so it doesn’t get lost in the generations,” LENS Vice President Fabiola Zdrubecky said.

Friday’s event also featured tables with information about the Day of the Dead in English and Spanish, a crafts table for children and a photo opportunity with a representation of La Catrina, a tall female skeleton commonly associated with the Day of the Dead. 

Attendees were offered free hot chocolate and pan de muerto, a sweet bread. Mariachi performer Arnulfo Cardenas played live music. 

“The school can be a safe space where we can gather together and we can celebrate our traditions,” Mercedes Fernández, president of LENS and Latino liaison and minority languages coordinator at ETHS, said. “I would like (attendees) to take with them the feeling that we contribute to the society with our culture, language, food, values and principles.” 

LENS previously built community altars for the Day of the Dead at the Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center in 2021 and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore in 2022. 

Student club ETHS Latinx Quest and the ETHS Latino Advisory Committee co-hosted this year’s celebration – the first of its kind at the high school. 

“There’s been this event … and we see a few after-school programs, but I definitely believe that we can do more to make sure ETHS is more aware of Latinos around our community,” ETHS freshman Sofia Oliveros said. 

LENS hosts other activities and provides various resources supporting the Latine community in Evanston throughout the year, including English classes, book clubs and a discussion group for senior citizens. 

Fernández hopes that LENS can bring greater visibility to the Latine community. 

“People still make us feel that we don’t belong,” Fernández said. “But I think that education, information and leadership, which are the three pillars of the Latino Advisory Committee, are going to make a difference. And it’s making a difference. Today is a testimony that we can make a difference.” 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @edwardsimoncruz

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