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Dia de los Muertos to be theme of AmBank First Friday

Fire barrels, live music, giant puppets, public altars and costumes will take over Yankie street in downtown Silver City this Friday night, as AmBank First Fridays Downtown celebrates Dia de los Muertos.

The free event, produced monthly by the Silver City MainStreet Project, focuses on a different theme each month, and with November’s first Friday falling on the actual Day of the Dead, the theme was a foregone conclusion.

“There’s something so beautiful in the Mexican and Latin American celebrations of Dia de los Muertos — coming together to remember those who came before us and, really, celebrate what they left for us,” said Nick Seibel, Silver City MainStreet manager. “I really couldn’t think of a better place to do that than in the heart of our downtown, surrounded by all of the history and culture we’re so fortunate to have here.”

Central to every AmBank First Friday event is the street dance, this month featuring local favorites the Illusion Band, playing a danceable mix of rock and roll in English and Spanish from 6 to 9 pm on Yankie street between Bullard and Texas streets.

“Many Dia de los Muertos traditions involve celebrating in costume, and we expect that many of our younger citizens will be excited to revive their Halloween costume for one more night of fun, so we’ve planned a costume contest for both kids and adults,” Seibel said. “Every child that shows up in costume will receive a prize from one of downtown’s most delicious destinations, and adults who dress up will have an opportunity to win one of several MainStreet gift certificates during band breaks.”

Event organizers have also made accommodations for cooler fall evenings by unveiling “art barrels,” designed and fabricated by downtown artist Janey Katz from barrels donated by Porter Transportation. Each barrel will contain a bonfire to provide warmth and atmosphere, and several will be dispersed around the dance.

Children and families attending AmBank First Fridays will want to begin their evening out with a stop at the Silver City Museum, which will be open extended hours until 6 pm to host a children’s Dia de los Muertos craft class, scheduled from 5 until 6. Each child who comes into the museum Friday will receive a free “special treat” provided by museum staff.

Another staple of Dia de los Muertos celebrations will be observed Friday evening as well — the reading of “calaveras,” short and often lighthearted poems of remembrance. Javalina Coffee House at the corner of Bullard and Broadway will play host to this part of the tradition, with a Remembrance Open Mic beginning at 7:30 pm.

Sam Castello, organizer of the Javalina event, hopes to elicit “poetry and song that honors and celebrates those who have taken that next step of the journey.”

“We'll allow up to 5 minutes — basically one poem or two short ones,” Castello said. “If everyone has a chance to read, we'll allow you to read again.”

And of course, no Day of the Dead celebration would be complete without an altar, so Yankie street gallery owners have built a public altar in front of the Raven’s Nest on Yankie, and invite AmBank First Friday participants to bring items, or “ofrendas,” to place on the altar in remembrance of loved ones.

The public altar will remain in place throughout the weekend, as the celebration continues Saturday with a community potluck for the dedication of the Prayer Flag project, featuring scores of prayer flags made by members of the community and hung above Yankie street. The potluck and dedication are scheduled for Saturday, November 3 from noon – 2 pm, at the same location as Friday night’s dance on Yankie St. Participants should bring a side dish to share, with the main course available for purchase from Vicki’s Eatery.

More information about AmBank First Fridays events can be found online at www.SilverCityMainStreet.com, or by calling the MainStreet office at (575) 534-1700.

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