A celebration of life, honor for the dead at Dia de los Muertos

Hannah Nelson, Entertainment Editor

Gone, but not forgotten: Students recognized a special night of celebration, remembrance, and philanthropy as many joined together for Día de los Muertos on Oct. 27.

The WTAMU College of Education and Social Sciences presented their Day of the Dead Celebration Gala Dinner and Dance, a charitable night to raise scholarship and program money for WT students.

“We have raised approximately $80,000 for student scholarships and program support,” said Eddie W. Henderson, Ph.D., the dean of education and social sciences.

Before the celebration, the evening started with a formal gala reception at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. Attendees dressed in formal wear, and some dressed for Día de los Muertos by wearing roses and painting their faces. A whole section of the museum had been designated for a wide variety of ofrendas to be displayed.

“In the museum all week, we’ve had 122 ofrendas created by WT students and others, including people in the community,” Dean of Education and Social Sciences Eddie W. Henderson, Ph.D., said.

Decorated with candy, cherished items, favorite food, and even stuffed animals, these ofrendas were a way for many WT students and community members to honor the death of loved ones, celebrities, authors and much more. For some, this was a way to honor their parents or grandparents. For others, it allowed them to remember those who inspired them.

“You know, it’s memories,” attendee Ericka Gassett said. “It’s memories of your [loved] ones that have already passed. It’s a time to celebrate them. It’s a nice feeling that you can bring them back and be able to showcase them.”

This event was also a time of celebration. Live music played as couples danced. Wine was available for people to sip while walking around looking at the ofrendas. It was a time to honor the dead but also to celebrate the living.

“This is about the 13th or 14th year we’ve done it, and it really celebrates Hispanic heritage and Hispanic culture, which is very important in our area,” Henderson said.

This reception was only the beginning of the event-filled night. Towards the end of the reception, those attending made their way to the Jack B. Kelley Student Center where the Gala Dinner and Dance was being held. Legacy Hall was decorated all around in Day of the Dead theme.

There was a dance floor for many to enjoy later in the night, and a main centerpiece in the room was an eye-catching, multi-tiered cake. Dinner was served, and Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Micky Cruz performed.

“We get to dance, we get to enjoy, and we get to celebrate life,” committee member Janie Rivas said.