Paying Tribute in Honor of Día de los Muertos

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Arbol de la Vida Portal Installation

Last Updated on March 31, 2023

As part of our commitment to safe, clean, enjoyable creeks and rivers, the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) hosts special events throughout the year that are free for the community. Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday that is also celebrated in many Latin American countries and among Hispanic American families that honors and pays respect to loved ones that have passed. In honor of this holiday, the River Authority hosted several events both online and in-person from October 31 through November 2.

Learn more about how we celebrated this holiday and how you can visit our special altar that pays tribute to one of our former board members!

***In accordance to CDC guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, mask wearing and social distancing are strongly encouraged while on our facilities, parks and trails.***

 River Authority Día de los Muertos Celebration 

The celebration began on Saturday, October 31 with a special online performance of traditional songs honoring loved ones that have passed that premiered on the River Authority’s Facebook page. Singer Alejandra Guzmán sang under Margarita Cabrera’s Árbol de la Vida: Memorias y Voces de la Tierra installation, which is the portal that connects Mission San Francisco de la Espada to the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River Walk. The installation is a physical reflection of stories crafted by the people of San Antonio and features 700 clay sculptures made by community members under Cabrera’s direction adorning the steel tree-like structure.

The celebration continued Sunday, November 1 on the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk with live music performances on river barges. Mariachi Los Galleros de San Antonio and Las Monas Performance Group entertained those strolling by the trail with traditional Mexican music and large catrina puppets dancing to the sounds of drums. To entertain more than just those who happened to be out on the Museum Reach this past Sunday afternoon, River Authority staff were also on the barges to show the entertainment on Facebook Live.

To wrap up the festivities, a special video featuring renowned poet, storyteller, and performing artist Dr. Carmen Tafolla premiered on the River Authority’s Facebook page on November 2, which is All Souls Day. Tafolla narrated the life story of former River Authority Board Chair Sally Buchanan, who passed away in 2016 and whom the River Authority decided to pay tribute by commissioning an altar to be displayed at the agency’s headquarters.

 Sally Buchanan Altar

A tradition that takes place as part of the Día de los Muertos celebration is the making of altars where people lay ofrendas (offerings) and place photos and objects of their loved ones that have passed to honor their memory. The River Authority commissioned local artist and altarista Elizabeth Rodriguez to create an altar to honor the legacy of Sally Buchanan, who served as board member at-large since 1999 and became Board Chair in 2013. She was also co-founder of the San Antonio River Foundation and served on the board from 2003-2016. She served as the foundation’s Chairman from 2003 – 2006.

The altar is currently being displayed at the River Authority’s headquarters through November 18, 2020. The community is invited to visit and view the altar during office hours which are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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