Day of the Dead Displays downtown and on campus

Students, employees help with campus, downtown Day of the Dead displays

The Hispanic fall holiday honoring the lives of special people – Day of the Dead – will be celebrated publicly at a downtown observance, area businesses and the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus through the efforts of UofL students and employees.

El Día de los Muertos marks a social ritual of families remembering their dead and celebrating the cycle of life and death with friends and relatives. The tradition usually features personalized altars made to commemorate the honorees.

Here’s an overview of various exhibits organized by the Spanish section of the classical and modern languages department and by the Latin American and Latino studies program:

  • An altar at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 1406 E. Washington St., will honor 20th century Trappist monk, activist and author Thomas Merton; UofL’s Latin American and Latino studies students are working on the display with the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living and on a  celebration at the downtown church. Activities will include a 6 p.m. Mass in Spanish and children’s art projects, paper flower-crafting, face-painting, music, parade and food from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 2 during the First Friday Trolley Hop.
  • Spanish language upper-level students will display decorated altars Oct. 31-Nov. 5 in UofL’s Ekstrom Library. Students in introductory-level classes will contribute traditional elements they have made such as 100 giant kites (Guatemala), votive thank offerings (Mexico) and special bread (Mexico and Ecuador). Also on display in the library will be altars by Latin American and Latino studies students to memorialize Mexican author Carlos Fuentes, Mexican singer Chavela Vargas and classmate Anthony Flaherty.
  • An altar contest Oct. 31-Nov. 3 will highlight displays at 10 local restaurants and stores serving the Hispanic community; the contest is organized by the Spanish section of classical and modern languages with Spanish-language publication Al Dia en America.     

For information about the downtown event, contact Rhonda Buchanan at 502-852-2034 or

For information about the student altars at Ekstrom Library, contact Melissa Groenewold, 502-852-4748 or   

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