Last weekend I went to a couple cultural events in Arizona. Although I've certainly enjoyed festivals and such in other places--here, for some reason, it often seems a little more special. I guess I can really feel how the people and traditions are connected to the location.
I happen to live very close to an Indian Reservation, and since I moved here, I had been very curious to learn more about it. While driving home, I saw a banner inviting the public to a Pow Wow--and so I made sure to attend. The event was the Red Mountain Eagle Pow Wow. There were about 75 dancers and numerous drum groups competing. The dancers all had amazing outfits, and I loved the fact that their ages ranged from the little kids to grandparents. Some of the most impressive dancers were teenage boys--and I was so happy to see that there were so many young people interested in traditional dance and music.
I then headed to Tucson to see the All Souls Procession. This was my first time at this event, and I have to honestly say that it was the most impressive city event I have been to anywhere. The procession celebrates the Day of the Dead--participants celebrate the lives of lost loved ones. One of the greatest things about the event was that it was very inclusive. The crowd ranged from hipster artist-types, to other diverse members of the community. Most everyone had masks, or painted their faces to resemble beautiful skulls. There was a really positive, energetic feeling to the evening.
After several hours of the procession, the crowd made its way downtown for the finale. Flam Chen, a local Tucson pyrotechnic theater troupe, put on an amazing spectacle. There were women on stilts in bug costumes with flaming staffs, a band of skull-faced bagpipers, and most impressive of all, was a six-story crane from which ten people were suspended like a mobile.
They released a giant, glowing bag of balloons into the crowd below, then juggled fire as they spun around high in the air. I'm doing a terrible job of explaining how amazing this all was to see. In the end, a large sphere was attached to the crane that contained messages to lost loved ones. The sphere was lit on fire to send all the messages to another world.
Despite being tired and having a long drive home, we had an amazing, inspiring time. I'd encourage you all to attend in the coming years--if you have any friends in Tucson, be sure to visit them in early November!