Day of the Dead returns Oct. 22 for lively celebration at YMCA in Medina

File photos by Tom Rivers: Erin Allis, 8, of Medina has her face painted on Oct. 23, 2021 at the Orleans County YMCA as part of the fourth annual Mexican Día de los Muertos celebration or the Day of the Dead. The event returns on Oct. 22.

Posted 14 October 2022 at 11:40 am

Press Release, Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council

MEDINA – GO ART! is happy to invite you to our Mexican Día de los Muertos celebration, co-sponsored by the Orleans County YMCA and Mariachi de Oro Mexican Grill.

Join us on Saturday, October 22 at the Orleans County YMCA, 306 Pearl St., Medina, from 3 to 7 p.m. Come learn about and enjoy this holiday that remembers ancestors, with free activities for the whole family.

The festivities will include Mexican crafts, face painting, dance and drama performance, sand painting and ofrenda displays, and special food tastings.  All activities will continue throughout the day. A full schedule can be found at

The Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration is a time of joyful remembrance of deceased loved ones, filled with an array of colors, scents, sounds and stories. Centered around the observance of All Saints and All Souls Days on November 1 and 2, the celebration also includes images and ideas about the roles of ancestors in our lives that trace back to Mexico’s indigenous peoples.  Tradition holds that this is the one time of the year when souls can return to earth for a day and commune with their families and friends.

The celebration last year included Mexican dance, music and dramatic performances by Alma de México, a group from Rochester led by Karla Alcalá. They will be back for the event on Oct. 22.

“We’re excited to be at the YMCA again this year, with the continuing support of local Medina businesses and community members,” says Karen Canning, director of GLOW Traditions at GO ART!

Mexican celebrations of the holiday often include animated skeletons, colorfully decorated skulls (calaveras), elaborately cut tissue paper banners, emphasizing life’s continuing vibrancy in the midst of mortality. Local business owners and community groups are hosting workshops in such arts, including sugar skulls, paper flowers and banners, and paper masks.

Hosts and volunteers include Della’s Chocolates, The Downtown Browsery, Oak Orchard Girl Scouts, and Medina High School students. Canalside Tattoos will offer temporary tattoos, Case-Nic Cookies will have Day of the Dead themed treats for sale, and Las Toxicas will feature Mexican jewelry and clothing for purchase. GO ART! staff will host face painting, and Mariachi de Oro will provide samples of Mexican hot chocolate and pan de muerto (bread of the dead), a typical food of the holiday.

Beautiful altars (ofrendas) in homes welcome the returning souls and feature candles, wild marigolds, incense, photographs, mementos and loved ones’ favorite foods like fruit, tortillas, tamales, chocolate, and bread.

People dance inside these puppets were more than 10 feet tall. The street puppets were created by artist, Antonio Cruz Zavaleta. He is among the returning artists for the upcoming Day of the Dead.

Members of the Rosario family will again create a large ofrenda at the YMCA in the style of their hometown in Oaxaca, Mexico. Artist Antonio Cruz Zavaleta will create a sand painting in front of the ofrenda, another decorative art found in Oaxaca for the holiday—check the schedule for a Q & A with the creators of these artistic traditions.

Attendees can contribute to a community ofrenda, where they can place a candle (electric, provided) and add their own remembrances of loved ones.

Mexican dance and music performances will be presented by Alma de México, a group from Rochester led by Karla Alcalá.  A former member of a folkloric dance group in Mexico, Karla now teaches community members traditional dance from a variety of regions. Live music will also be provided by La Marimba, a marimba band from Buffalo, led by Tiffany Nicely.

Large monos de calenda (street puppets), created by artist, Antonio Cruz Zavaleta, will also return to dance and wander among attendees. Everyone’s invited to join in, and feel free to come in Day of the Dead themed outfits.

This year we welcome four artists—Dan Butler, Ted Canning, Ruben Ornelas and Gaitrie Subryan—from the newly-formed GLOW Creatives collective, supported by a 2-year grant from Creatives Rebuild New York. They will assist with face painting, sound reinforcement, and presentations of personal ofrendas and dance—see the online schedule for exact timing (

The event is co-sponsored by GLOW Traditions at GO ART!, Mariachi de Oro Restaurant, and the YMCA, with partial funding from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

The gymnasium at the Y will be transformed for the celebration of the Day of the Dead.