An altar is set up at the Port Townsend Library in 2018 during a Day of the Dead celebration. (Port Townsend Library)

An altar is set up at the Port Townsend Library in 2018 during a Day of the Dead celebration. (Port Townsend Library)

Port Townsend Library to celebrate Day of the Dead

Authentic celebration will allow attendees to build honorific altars

PORT TOWNSEND — The third annual Port Townsend Library Day of the Dead celebration is Friday, and participants will be able to construct an honorary altar and paint sugar skulls, among other activities.

The free all-ages event will start at 6:30 p.m. at the library, 1220 Lawrence St.

The event began when a volunteer from Mexico named Maria De La Luz Rosario — known as “Luz” — approached the library staff with the idea.

“We have a really awesome volunteer from Mexico who comes and organizes the event with us,” said Melody Sky Eisler, library director. “So we feel like it is a very authentic celebration of Day of the Dead that Port Townsend gets to experience.

“It’s a really generous thing she does for the community here.”

The library has seen 80 to more than 100 participants at the event each year, Eisler said.

The Day of the Dead, also known as Día de los Muertos, is traditionally celebrated between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2. It originated in Mexico as a way to honor the dead.

“I love that we get to share a really beautiful cultural celebration with our community,” Eisler said. “It’s deeply meaningful. We’ve had people over the years make alters for loved ones that they’ve lost, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives.

“We’ve had some really meaningful altars made to pets.”

The celebration allows community members to connect, said Hilary Verheggen, library manager and youth services lead.

“I think it’s also a really good chance for people while they’re making their altars that they share with other people in attendance about their loved ones,” Verheggen said.

“So it’s not just making an altar by themselves, it really embodies community and sharing what they love about the person.”

In addition to creating the small altars, participants will listen to live music by Peter McCracken and Tres Piedras and can do other crafts such as decorate sugar skulls and enjoy traditional food, Eisler said.

“It is a true community event,” Eisler said.

In addition to the Friday celebration, the library will celebrate Halloween on Thursday with free candy and tangerines for trick-or-treaters, and some members of the library staff are known to dress up in costume for the day.

A toddler story time also is planned at 10:15 a.m. Thursday.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].

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