Jaelene Rivera sets up an altar every year for Dia de los Muertos at her house for her grandfather, but Wednesday evening she was downtown celebrating the holiday with other local residents.
In downtown Decatur on Wednesday evening, the city celebrated Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, for the first year. Dede Quarry, president of the Downtown Decatur Merchants Association, hopes it will be an annual event.
Rivera, 23, of Decatur, said the celebration was a great way for people to learn about Hispanic culture.
“You get to learn more stuff about people, respecting one another and share,” she said. “I hope they can do it every year.”
At home, Rivera sets up an altar for her grandfather with water, bread, rice and other foods, she said.
Quarry, speaking as the event began, said she hopes it will become as big as Carnegie Carnival, an annual Mardi Gras celebration in Decatur.
“I think we all thought it was going to be big, or knew it was going to be big, I just didn’t expect at 5:15 p.m. it was already going to have this kind of crowd,” she said.
Quarry said art at the Alabama Center for the Arts, from Decatur City Schools, was attracting a diverse crowd.
“I look out here and see there’s not one specific color. It’s just a wonderful community coming together to celebrate a holiday that means something to a big portion of our community, and I think that’s awesome,” she said.
Quarry said attendees included many Hispanics, as she had hoped.
“We have such a huge Hispanic population in Decatur and in the surrounding area that might not get the recognition that they need and deserve. I think that is kind of what we’re showing here,” she said. “It’s just so exciting for downtown, for the Hispanic community, for Decatur in general.”
The event offered an altar set up on the steps of the ACA where people could bring photos of loved ones that have died along with gifts for the loved ones. There was face painting, music and food trucks as well.
Jason Borden, 38, of Decatur, said it was a good event for downtown Decatur.
“It’s nice that there’s anything going on downtown here, for this to be the first year that they’ve done the Dia de los Muertos,” he said. “Seeing so many people out on a Wednesday night, typically there wouldn’t be this many people out walking around, so it’s good for the city.”
Borden also applauded the event because of it was a positive for Hispanics in Decatur.
“There’s a lot of vendors out here right now that you can see that they’re Hispanic heritage and getting to show off their businesses and their culture and way of life. So that’s really important for us to be a part of and see,” he said.