dayofthedead.jpgTired of zombies, Lady Gaga outfits, and drunk Avatars this Halloween? Check out an authentic San Francisco tradition that takes place every November 2nd, with The Day of the Dead procession through the Mission. True to it’s Mesoamerican roots, the Mission celebration honors ancestors who have passed and the continuing vitality of today’s families and community.

While The Day of the Dead has been celebrated for thousands of years, tragically the future of this unique celebration in SF is unclear. Due to budget cuts, the SF Arts Commission eliminated the Neighborhood Festival Grant program that has funded the expensive permit costs. Originally started in 1977 with a handful of participants, today the procession brings between 15,000 and 20,000 people to honor the dead and the cycle of life.

The Marigold Project, the non-profit that organizes the annual event, feels “strongly that Day of the Dead should remain a free community event, with no corporate sponsors.” They say that they hope that with community support they can keep this grassroots tradition alive. If you are interested in donating to the event, please check out Marigold Project’s website for more info on how to help.

If you’d like to join the procession, this year participants will assemble at 6:00 PM on Tuesday November 2nd at a new starting location at the corner of 22nd Street and Bryant Street. It will move through a new route by way of Bryant Street onto 24th Street, then along 24th Street onto Mission Street, then along Mission Street onto 22nd Street, and then move down 22nd Street; where it will end at Bryant Street.

To check out the candle-lit altars and installations celebrating those who have passed, go to Garfield Park (between 25th and 26th, Treat and Harrison) from 4 PM to 10:30 PM on Tuesday. Everyone is welcome to build an altar at Garfield Park, just keep in mind there is no alcohol allowed and all altars must be cleaned-up by 11:30 pm that night. Feel free to bring candles, photos, food, or something that reminds you of a person that has passed away.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!
  • Matt Baume

    They draw 15,000 to 20,000 people, but they can’t figure out how to break even? Something’s wrong here.

  • Justine Quart

    Thanks for the comment Matt. To clarify: Day of the Dead is an open community event that has a long tradition in SF and especially the Mission. It has always been free for everyone to participate, and has remained proudly commercial and sponsor free as well. Personally, I feel like that’s an integral aspect to making sure this cultural tradition is available to everyone regardless of financial status and stays true to its traditional roots. When the city withdrew it’s funding this year for the first time in the celebration’s history, that’s when the non-profit turned to the public to donate funds.