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Posted Nov 7, 2011, 2:08 pm
Tens of thousands of Tucsonans crowded downtown streets Sunday night, dancing in celebration and walking somberly in memory of the dead.
The finale, after a 2-mile walk, saw a giant urn filled with messages to the departed ceremoniously set aflame.
People dressed as skeletons and others wearing elaborate masks joined a face-painted University of Arizona marching band, the Seven Pipers bagpipers, dancers writhing to drum lines, and couples dressed as Los Novios—a bride and groom walking down the aisle in a Dia de los Muertos tradition.
Stilt-walkers, dogs in skeleton suits, small floats and altars on wheels and symbolic pieces from environmental and human rights groups also appeared in the All Souls Procession.
Vincent Wicks, wearing large flowing white wings, said he has attended the procession for several years and always dresses as something different. "This year I wanted to honor my sister who passed away," he said.
Many participants walked the entire route, from Fourth Avenue and University Boulevard, south to Congress Street, and west to Mercado San Agustin, west of Interstate 10. Thousands of others packed downtown sidewalks, joining in the march as it passed.
Nadia Reilly watched the procession go by. "I have gone now for three years in a row and I love coming each year because more and more people attend," she said. "I didn't have time to dress up this year but I wore my skull earrings."
The procession, now in its 22nd year, attracts more participants each year. Last year's turnout was estimated at over 20,000—this year's appeared higher, even as the route grew much longer this time around.
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Heading down Congress Street, the procession stretched from sidewalk to sidewalk for at least five blocks.
The procession was organized by nonprofit arts collective Many Mouths One Stomach.
Emily Jones contributed to this report.