On Sunday, October 30 at noon, the Riverview Farmers Market in Jersey City Heights kicks off their 8th annual Days of the Dead celebration in partnership with local Mexican-American artist Santiago Cohen and this year will be expanding the event to include activities throughout the week, culminating on Friday, November 4.
Cohen serves as the visionary behind the Giant Puppet Parade, where he crafts the puppets by hand in his local studio and also provides DIY kits to the community to build their own puppets and participate in the parade. The event also includes a communal memorial altar or “Ofrenda,” a cornerstone tradition of the holiday, where attendees can place photos of loved ones that have passed and food offerings.
“This event is a way we can help Jersey City respect and appreciate the Mexican community we have all around us,” said Cohen.
Along with the parade and ofrenda, the free event will include live music from Mariachi Oro de Mexico, traditional Mexican dance group Sueño Americano, and entertainment for the whole family.
The Riverview Neighborhood Association will host their annual Dog Costume Contest beginning around 1 p.m., as well.
As a new addition to this year’s festivities, the Riverview Farmers Market is partnering with several local businesses and organizations to bring the Mexican tradition to life throughout the week through window and ofrenda displays, as well as Days-of-the-Dead-themed activities, and promotions. The Mexican Consulate of New York City is also involved, pledging their support for the first time in 2022.
“This is a holiday that belongs to everyone,” Cohen explained. “Everyone has a loving person in their lives that they have lost and this celebration is a way to honor and remember them and bring them to your life again. To me, that is the most important part.”
To cap off the week’s festivities, the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble will bring a free presentation of “Frida” to Grace Church on Friday, November 4 at 7:30 p.m. A homage to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Anna Sokolow paints an intimate portrait of these famed 20th century artists through dance, slides of Kahlo’s paintings, and a score by Mexican composers.
“The artistic collaboration between Sokolow and Kahlo is one that reflects the same spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange that inspired the Riverview Farmers Market Days of the Dead Celebration,” said market board member Beverly Brown Ruggia. “We pay homage to the Mexican tradition and bring it alive for the local community by incorporating the residents’ art work, music, and participation. Sokolow, Kahlo, and Rivera were great 20th century intellectuals and artists who celebrated their own cultures, but also crossed borders physically and artistically through appreciation and collaboration. In a small way, the artists and residents of the Heights do the same each year at this popular event.”
Originating with the Aztec people of Mexico, Días de Los Muertos or Days of the Dead is traditionally held November 1 and 2 each year to honor the memory of lost loved ones through celebration.
View complete event schedule here. For further information please go to @riverviewfarmersmarket, JCHeightsMarket, https://www.facebook.com/farmsintheheights, or https://www.loc8nearme.com/new-jersey/jersey-city/riverview-farmers-market/5118492/
About Riverview Farmers Market
The Riverview Farmers Market is held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Riverview-Fisk Park, located at Palisade Avenue between Bowers and Griffith Streets, from May through November. It is organized by the local non-profit organization Farms in the Heights and has been serving the Jersey City Heights community for more than 12 years.
About the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble
The Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble, based out of New York City, presents works from Anna Sokolow’s vast choreography that are relevant to the times we live in and that touch the hearts of all people, everywhere, struggling with the universal issues of living regardless of differences in place and culture.
About Santiago Cohen
Santiago Cohen is a Mexican/American artist and author. He has worked as a designer, illustrator and Animator for HBO, the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and PBS. Santiago has written and illustrated more than 20 children’s books and graphic novels. He has made a successful career in Fine Art, with shows in galleries and Museums in New York, New Jersey, and Mexico. He has been the Artistic Director of the Day of the Dead Parade in Jersey City since 2014. Santiago had a seminal show for Morris Arts at the Atrium of the Courthouse in the fall 2021. Santiago was one of 26 influential people to have “Great Conversations” in the event organized by Morris Arts in April 2022. Recently, he was accepted for the 14c Art Fair of New Jersey in the fall of 2022.
About Music & Art in the Park Programming by Riverview Farmers Market
This program is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a division of the Department of State, and administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County Executive & the Hudson County Board of County Commissioners.This program is also supported by public funds from the Jersey City Arts & Culture Trust Fund. Riverview Farmers Market and Farms in the Heights appreciate the support of both the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs and the Jersey City Arts & Culture Trust Fund.