Remembering Together

November 4, 2015 |

The 2015 All Souls Procession Weekend

With thousands of more participants, a finale performance of grand proportions and epic new art and music installments, the All Souls Procession of 2015 is bigger and more impactful than ever before.

Tucson All souls_1What began in 1990 as a small gathering to celebrate the memories of deceased loved ones through performance art has now grown into the biggest celebration of its kind in the US, as the 26th annual All Souls Procession prepares to host over 150,000 participants to the storied festival. The highly edifying and cathartic event, organized by local non-profit organization Many Mouths One Stomach, will be taking place this year on Sunday, November 8th in Downtown Tucson.

The All Souls Procession is a celebration of death and life that coincides with Mexico’s Dia De Los Muertos in honoring and remembering loved ones who have passed on. Masses of Tucsonans and people from all over the world will gather to march in the streets with painted faces, masks and festive garb to honor the lost souls by bearing blown up photographs, posters and letters commemorating them. The finale that will be taking place next door to Mercado San Agustin, where live music, fire dancers, and performance artists will entertain the crowd before the urn that is filled with letters and messages to deceased loved ones will be raised and ignited high above the crowd in a moment of exulting release.

“The one thing I see lacking in our society is how we honor our dead, at least in Western civilization. Most people don’t take the time or put the intention forth into slowing down and honoring our lost loved ones and celebrating their lives,” says event organizer and Director of Flam Chen Paul Weir. “The goal is that this experience is authentic and real and taken seriously. We want people to let go and feel supported and connected. Everyone is a participant in this. Everyone is invited into the streets to be a part of this and to feel part of something much bigger as a collective. Especially in today’s society, this is a very visceral and authentic experience and there’s a lot of value on each and every person involved.”

This year procession route is the same as last year’s event, as it starts downtown on 6th Ave and 6th street near the underpass. There will be a DJ playing there and sending out dedications and the Hungry Ghosts busking crew will be roaming around to collect donations. People will start culminating at 4:00pm and then procession will begin around 6:30pm. The march is a two-mile route from the underpass to Alameda to Congress Street and then underneath I-10 to the finale location at San Agustin.

This year’s event carries a specific theme to honor those who are “unmournable” due to unfortunate circumstances before they passed. “The theme this year that we’re working with is UnMournable Bodies, which includes everyone from criminals to drug addicts to people who were enemies of the state and people who are caught in the crossfire of war. A lot of people die nameless when families get decimated. A lot of people are forgotten because of one or two poor choices or actions they made while living. So our finale ceremony this year pays homage to those people,” says Weir.

As the event continues to grow to mass proportions, it increasingly gains attention from such outlets as The New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN and many other news organizations. Because of this, the number of people who travel from all over the world to be a part of it has also steadily been increasing, which is great for the event itself, and for the city of Tucson as a whole. Those attending the event for the first time will undoubtedly be in awe, but it’s important to remember the sole purpose at the heart of the festival.

“People coming for the first time should definitely put something in the urn for someone they’re trying to remember to really make that walk and experience meaningful to them,” says Weir. “It is beautiful and it is a spectacle, but everyone walking in that parade is walking for somebody. Hold that in your heart and understand that it’s a public ritual and you’re here to participate in it. It’s really that memory and that intention that is the most valuable part of the experience. The show at the finale is beautiful and we really try to push ourselves in creating something from an authentic place of expression. But in the end, it’s about the urn burning and the flames consuming those memories and sending them out to the universe.”

To prepare for an event of this magnitude, MMOS has to fundraise and plan ahead accordingly to accommodate for the annual growth. The board has already started planning for 2016 and 2017’s events in order to stay within their tight budget. While the city recently gave them a grant for $10,000 a year, the event typically costs more than $150,000 to put on, so donations and support is greatly appreciated and essential for the livelihood of future year’s processions.

“Donations are so meaningful to us because it’s a free event to attend and you can come participate at the deepest of levels for absolutely nothing. We don’t pollute the space with advertising or endorsers at all, because we take it very seriously that this is to honor our loved ones, so we turn down that kind of thing. We’re a non-profit and mostly artists created every year. Our board and staff are primarily volunteers and the directors of the parade that do the long, hard work get paid just a few cents per hour. So when you see the Hungry Ghosts busking crew out during the event, please remember that even a dollar or two per person goes an extremely long way for us.”

For those who are unable to make it to the event this year, or if you don’t like big crowds, fear not, because the final ceremony will be live streaming at Check the website up to 48-hours before the event to find the link, which will include video, audio and a commentator from 6:30pm to 9:30pm on November 8th. And if you do make it to the procession, make sure to get there early, bring the whole family, and get ready for one of the greatest experiences of your lives, and all in celebrating and honoring the spirits of the dead.

Complete details on the 2015 All Souls Procession can be found at


Category: Arts, Community, DOWNTOWN / UNIVERSITY / 4TH AVE, Entertainment, Events, MUSIC