TUCSON'S TAKE ON DAY OF THE DEAD
About 100,000 people are expected to participate in the All Souls Procession on Nov. 8 in Tucson, Arizona.
The procession, inspired by the traditional Latin American holiday Day of the Dead, or Dia de Muertos, typically includes giant art projects, costumes, floats and music. The event ends with a giant urn hoisted 40 feet in the air being set ablaze. The Tucson event is in its 26th year.
Dia de Muertos is traditionally observed on Nov. 2 in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, but in recent years, multicultural public celebrations have spread to communities and cities around the U.S. with large immigrant populations. The holiday honors the departed souls of loved ones with decorated altars, photos, elaborate paper cutouts and papier-mache figurines, candles, skulls made from sugar, all-night vigils and other offerings and rituals. Public events here often include art exhibitions and parades.
The procession in Tucson kicks off at 4 p.m. on Nov. 8 at North Sixth Avenue at the underpass with a 6:30 p.m. march to Mercado San Agustin at Congress Street, west of I-10. Details at http://allsoulsprocession.org/ .
The Tucson Museum of Art is also holding a family-oriented Day of the Dead event on Nov. 2. In addition, the museum has an installation by Hank Tusinski on display through Jan. 3 called "Banda Calaca," with a large-scale seven-piece skeleton band marching toward a community memorial altar.
EDGAR ALLAN POE TOASTER
The mysterious individual who visited Edgar Allan Poe's grave for years on Jan. 19, the writer's birthday, hasn't been seen since 2009, but Baltimore aims to revive the tradition.
The original Poe Toaster was known for placing a bottle of cognac and three roses at the Poe Monument in the Westminster Hall & Burying Ground on his annual visits. Poe, his wife Virginia and his mother-in-law Maria Clemm are buried at the Poe Monument.
The Maryland Historical Society, Poe Baltimore and Westminster Hall & Burying Ground are now inviting artists to apply to perform an "original vision and interpretation of the 'Poe Toaster.'" Applications should be sent by email by Oct. 23; finalists will perform at the Maryland Historical Society on Nov. 7. Members of the public who attend the performance can also enter a raffle to win a chance for the Poe Toaster title. The winner will perform the toast at the Westminster Burying Ground on Jan. 19, on what would have been Poe's 206th birthday. Details at www.mdhs.org/poetoaster .
Poe was born in Boston and also lived in Virginia, New York and Philadelphia. He died in Baltimore in 1849 after being found delirious on the street in circumstances as mysterious as his haunting tales and poems. His death has been attributed to everything from alcohol to rabies.
Visitors to Baltimore can tour the Edgar Allan Poe House, where he lived, as well as the graveyard. The graveyard monument bears his likeness and another marker bears a raven, a reference to his famous poem, "The Raven." Details at http://www.poeinbaltimore.org/ .
CHRISTMAS ON A MISSISSIPPI CRUISE
Germany and other countries in Europe are famous for their Christmas markets, and the markets comprise a popular itinerary for European river cruises.
Now the American Queen Steamboat Co. is offering a Christmas-themed trip in the U.S. on the Mississippi River.
The American Queen riverboat will travel the Mississippi to and from Memphis, Tennessee, and New Orleans on nine-day cruises beginning Thanksgiving that will emphasize Southern history and culture. The itineraries will include Christmas markets in Greenville, Mississippi, and at the Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana, along with strolling carolers in St. Francisville, Louisiana, departure serenades from the levees of Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi, and on-board holiday music.
Details at www.AQSC.com .