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The DL: All Souls set to roll, walk, dance through 24th procession

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Downtown Lowdown

The DL: All Souls set to roll, walk, dance through 24th procession

The All Souls Procession enters its 24th year on Sunday. This grassroots event that started with just a few participants has grown into one of Tucson's most popular events, attracting tens of thousands of people each year.

All Souls gives us a chance to grieve for what has been lost - somebody close to us, a beloved pet, a job, a way of life, anything - and celebrate what these things meant to us. Nobody will judge who, what, or how we do it. The event and procession is all about free expression, and anybody can participate in any way they see fit. There is no registration and no rules other than respect for others and common sense. It's democratic anarchy.

The sense of community surrounding All Souls and associated events is almost overwhelming. No idea is turned down. Don't know how to make your own mask? There are workshops for that. Other workshops teach participants how to build their own floats or sculptures for the procession. 

No matter what you want to do, somebody will be there to support you. Creativity through collaboration, not competition, is an organizing principle here. 

Even if you don't have an artistic or creative bone in your body, or just don't have the time or desire to make a huge float of a skeleton or a representation of the recently departed Fluffy, All Souls still welcomes you. Show up in your regular street clothes just like thousands of Tucsonans. Or have somebody else craft a gorgeous mask for you. Hotel Congress will also be hosting a face painting station starting at 2 p.m., so you can dine, drink, listen to the music and have your face done up in the traditional style of Dia de los Muertos.

There are no corporate sponsors, or singular source of revenue. The event, which like many events takes a lot of cash to put on, is funded entirely by a few grants and donations from local businesses and individuals. The list of sponsors reads like a who's who of familiar local Tucson businesses, businesses that generate loyalty from their customers. It's local, and the varied sources of funding ensures that if even one funding source dries up the event will continue. There is no corporate meddling.

The night of the procession is almost surreal. Thousands of people with sugar skull faces or in costume walk together, feeling to the core the beats from drums or music from fellow marchers. Many, many more line the streets, sometimes staking their ideal spot several hours in advance. Not everybody is there to mourn, or to celebrate a life of somebody who is lost. It's more than worth it to come out to see the floats and costumes, stilt-walkers and the urn that will be burned at the end of the night to seek closure. You can join with the community, or just watch as people stream by.

Check out the new route for the procession, the history, culture and everything you need to know about the All Souls Procession on their website. For information about dining before the procession and parking in downtown, visit the Downtown Tucson Partnership.

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