Waukegan, Illinois (October 4, 2023) – The Waukegan Park District and Sugar Skulls Xilotl are partnering to celebrate Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) with sugar skull decorating workshops and a community celebration at the Jack Benny Center for the Arts, located at 39 Jack Benny Drive in Bowen Park. With origins in Mexico and celebrated throughout Latin America, Día de Muertos is a celebration of the lives of the deceased.
For Día de Muertos, families create ofrendas (offerings) to honor their family members that have passed away. These altars are decorated with bright marigolds, calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls), photos, foods, drinks, and items cherished by the departed loved ones. Día de Muertos is not “Mexican Halloween” like it is sometimes mistaken for because of the time of the year.
Sugar skull decorating workshops will be facilitated by Sugar Skulls Xilotl on Saturday, October 7, 2023 and Saturday, October 14, 2023 from 10am to 12pm at the Jack Benny Center for the Arts. Preregistration is required to participate in the free sugar skull decorating workshops.
The commemoration of Día de Muertos will close with a free community celebration on Saturday, October 21, 2023 from 1pm to 4pm at the Jack Benny Center for the Arts. The event will feature pan de muerto (bread of the dead), altar exhibits, art and food vendors, music and dance performances, and sugar skull decorating workshops.
Jeremiah Johnson, President of the Waukegan Park District Board of Commissioners, stated, “The Waukegan Park District is proud to partner with Sugar Skulls Xilotl to recognize Día de Muertos, an important tradition for Latino families in our community. The event is an an opportunity for individuals to remember their departed loved ones.”
Jay Lerner, Executive Director of the Waukegan Park District, stated, “Partnerships with local organizations like Sugar Skulls Xilotl are vital to enhance cultural offerings. Through this partnership, we can host sugar skull decorating workshops and this vibrant community celebration to commemorate Día de Muertos.”
Maria Calderon, Executive Director of Sugar Skulls Xilotl, stated, “Sugar Skulls Xilotl has been committed to sharing cultural knowledge about Día De Muertos since 2011. Living in our diverse society, it is important to pass down cultural traditions through the generations.”
More information about the Waukegan Park District’s celebration of Día de Muertos, including registration, is available at waukeganparks.org/diademuertos.
About the Waukegan Park District
Established on December 26, 1916, the Waukegan Park District (WPD) has 53 properties and more than 742 acres of land, including the 18-hole Bonnie Brook and 9-hole Greenshire Golf Courses. Properties are managed to the highest environmental and conservation standards. Facilities operated by the WPD include the Field House Sports, Fitness and Aquatics Center, Waukegan’s Greg Petry SportsPark, Waukegan Skate Park, BMX Track, SplashZone, Percussion Playground, recreational centers, disc golf course, dog exercise area and agility course, outdoor sports fields, picnic areas, playgrounds, splash pads, and sports courts including basketball, tennis and pickleball. A full range of programs and services are offered year-round for all ages, from infants to seniors, as well as special need populations. Healthy lifestyles, wellness initiatives, and a connection with the outdoors and nature are integrated throughout programs, services, and special events. Arts and cultural activities are provided by the Jack Benny Center for the Arts, Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and Concert Chorus, and the Waukegan History Museum. We offer something for everyone!
A member of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD), Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA), and the Park District Risk Management Agency (PDRMA), the WPD employs 73 full-time and 219 part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees and is recognized by the IPRA as an Exceptional Workplace.
Nationally accredited by the NRPA Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) and State accredited through the IAPD Distinguished Agency Accreditation, the WPD has received the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Triple Crown Award for receiving the GFOA’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award, and the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. The WPD was awarded the NRPA National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management in 2013, and was named a Gold Medal Finalist in 2012, 2013, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023.