Dia de los Muertos Street Festival in Downtown Corpus Christi

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Painted faces as skulls were everywhere.
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Colorful handmade arts and crafts vendors were abundant.
Tons of music, dance, food, art, and fun


Source:  http://diadelosmuertoscc.com/

Background – Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos (DDLM) or the Day of the Dead is a traditional holiday in Mexico when deceased friends and family members are remembered and celebrated. It is a poignant time, both solemn and joyous, with colorful artistic traditions, pageantry, and whimsy despite the sobering subject. Dia de los Muertos is a joyful remembrance in which death is recognized as a natural part of the cycle of life.

In the arts, everyday life is represented in skeletal form. A common symbol of Dia de los Muertos is the skull or “calavera” often represented in masks, candy, and other curios. Traditional activities include making sugar skulls decorated with brightly colored icing, papel picaco (cut paper banners) and paper mache’ masks and figures.  Some people believe possessing Day of the Dead items, like tattoos, dolls, sugar skulls or jewelry, can bring good luck.

Souls of the deceased return to visit loved ones on the days of October 31-November 2.  In preparation for the reunion, families create altars to honor the deceased with ofrendas (offerings) of yellow marigolds, memorabilia, photos, favorite foods, beverages and trinkets of the departed.  Religious and spiritual symbols, like the Christian Cross and Virgin Mary often adorn altars, as well.

Because it is a national holiday in Mexico, schools and government offices close, and the streets are decorated.  People, young and old alike, participate in the festivities: parades, dancing in the town square, and processions to the cemetery.  At the cemetery, the spirits are honored with music, dancing, poetry and stories.  Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as people recall funny events and stories about the departed.  In some areas of Mexico, they picnic or even sleep at the gravesite.

This celebration has gone on for centuries in Mexico.  By presenting the Dia de los Muertos festival and educational programming, we are providing an opportunity for people to learn about this rich cultural tradition of Mexico, to create a connection to our past, and to honor and celebrate the deceased.

Our DDLM Festival assists with cultural tourism by drawing artists, vendors, musicians, and festival-goers to Corpus Christi and to the downtown area.  To enhance our DDLM programming, K Space Contemporary has added cultural art workshops during the month of October and a fine art exhibition. During November, a thematically associated exhibition will be displayed in the main gallery, including the Extravagancia de Piñatas, a contest and exhibition of piñatas constructed by area K-12 schools (groups/art classes/art clubs).  These student groups compete for cash awards for classroom supplies.

The 7th Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival was held Saturday, November 1, 3 pm to midnight!  The festival is held in the 400-500 blocks of Starr and 500-700 blocks of Mesquite Streets in downtown Corpus Christi. Everyone is encouraged to wear a costume.  The event includes live music, Mariachis, Folklorico dancers, Hecho a Mano Art Expo, Kids’ Activities, community altar, food, drinks and more.  Texas A & M University Art Department’s “Hold Steady Iron Pouring Crew” will be on hand offering visitors a chance to create their own miniature iron sculpture while the Printmaking Department will be print customized t-shirts.  A community altar is located inside K Space Contemporary.

Many of  Corpus Christi’s favorite artists will be on hand selling their work and El Dia de los Muertos themed items.

The Hecho a Mano Art Expo features over 75 artists offering everything from jewelry to sculpture to all kinds of Dia de los Muertos related trinkets.  Those that are interested in being a vendor will find guidelines and registration information under “Vendor Information” on this website.

We are accepting sponsors and seeking volunteers.   Sponsorship information is available at http://www.diadelosmuertoscc.com.  Anyone interested in volunteering may call (361)887-6834.

Dia de los Muertos Street Festival is coordinated by the Electra Art*Axis Tattoo, K Space Contemporary, Corpus Christi Downtown Management District, and House of Rock. Proceeds from the event benefit K Space Contemporary, a 501 (C) 3 non-profit arts organization.


 P.S. I just had to buy 3 of Roel Palacio’s wonderful masks! They are just amazing!

Mardi Gras Celebrated Island Style?

Mardi Gras—

Most people think of beads, bare chests, and booze.

On Padre Island, they do Mardi Gras— barefoot.

All photos by Miles Merwin. The Island Moon Newspaper.
All photos by Miles Merwin. The Island Moon Newspaper.

According to http://barefootmardigras.com/,”Barefoot Mardi Gras offers a Texas style carnival atmosphere right on the beautiful beaches of Corpus Christi. Catch some beads and rays while advocating for youth!”

The 5th annual Barefoot Mardi Gras Parade and Party was this past weekend on North Padre Island. The event benefits Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. The parade started at noon on beach down from Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park.

So if you are around the Coastal Bend this time of year, you might want to check out this islander twist on Mardi Gras. If you want beads, beautiful beaches, and bare feet,  this could be the Mardi Gras for you.

All photos by Miles Merwin. Island Moon Newpaper
All photos by Miles Merwin. The Island Moon Newpaper

Spring Break Already?

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Spring Break on North Padre Island, Texas. Photo courtesy of http://entertainment.caller.com

Wow…we had just been talking about cold, stunned turtles and polar vortex weather roller coasters… Now Spring Break in just around the corner. The first weekend will be March 7-8 with the busiest weekend on the 14-15th. However, today, the temp. dropped again. Spring is just a teasing us…

With all of this cold crazy weather this winter, there will be plenty of hormone-filled, Spring- feverish breakers coming to our little strip of sand here in South Texas. We here in the Coastal Bend have noticed that the traffic has been steadily increasing over the years here, but get ready for more.

So, if you want a quiet time here at the beach, well, it may not be happening for the mid-part of March. However, you will probably have a quieter time over at Padre Island National Seashore or maybe even at Rockport. The Port Aransas Beaches and many of the beaches on North Padre and definitely South Padre Islands will be busy. But just like March, it roars in like a lion, and leaves like a lamb.

Is the Coastal Bend Trying to go from Subtropical to Sub Arctic?

Happy New Year! Well, it looks like  you made it through the holidays if you are reading this. Now we are heading into the “Dead of Winter” which is normally month of January and maybe a little into February with “normal” highs in the 60’s or 50’s F when it’s “cold”.

Our little  piece of the subtropics is trying to go sub arctic….well, at least it seems that way. This Winter has been consistently the coldest that I remember. Winter roared in way back in November, and it doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Even in November the temperatures stayed mostly 5o and below.

 Cold front approaching Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of http://www.kztv10.com/news/

Cold front approaching Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of http://www.kztv10.com/news

Now with the “Polar Vortex” this week, we are seeing temperatures with highs in the 30’s. Brrrr! (By the way, what the heck is a “Polar Vortex?” A frozen hurricane?) Normally Winter storms are very rare this far south with a few exceptions. Snow just doesn’t tend to happen here, but it did once back in 2004 which was a wonderful Christmas gift (or a freak of nature—however you view it) on the eve of that Christmas.

Photo courtesy of http://www.srh.noaa.gov/crp/?n=whitechristmas2004

Well, all I have to say, is bundle up for the month, and make sure you have plenty of firewood in your chiminea. Spring and all its breakers will be here soon enough! And… don’t forget that when the heat of summer is here, we may be wishing for a little sub-arctic weather to pay us a little visit.

Photo courtesy of http://www.mexicanimports.co

Christmas: Padre Island Style

The folks on North Padre Island love to have fun and Christmas time is no exception!  Homes were decorated with dazzling lights and luminarias.  Docks and boats were menageries of floating color. Many homes were sporting Island-themed and religious Christmas displays. Not only do they love to have fun, but they also love to share the magic of Christmas with others.

Also this weekend kicks off the 39th annual La Posada Lighted Boat Parade where part-time Islanders and full-time Islanders watched the festivities dockside, ramp-side, and boat-side. This event is usually publicized in advance, so islanders take these days to host parties in their homes or on their decks both on and off the canals. During the two day procession, the boats wind through the canals on North Padre Island on a route, where certain boats stop by homes to pick up unwrapped toys. This parade is put on by the Padre Island Yacht Club and works in cooperation with the US Marines to raise donations for Toys for Tots. This event always raises the most donations every year to ensure a Merry Christmas for kids in need in South Texas.

The tradition of “La Posada” which means to lodge (posar) is rooted in Catholicism  and  according to Wikipedia, “is the reenactment of Mary and Joseph trying to find lodging at the inns before she gives birth to Jesus. The head of the procession will have a candle inside a paper lampshade [luminaria]. At each house, the resident responds by singing a song and Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter. Once the “innkeepers” let them in,  guests come into the home and kneel around the Nativity scene to pray (typically, the Rosary).”La Posadas are usually a nine day event representing the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy. These processions originated in Spain, but have been celebrated in Mexico for over 400 years. They have also been celebrated in Guatamala, Philippines, and the states that border Mexico in the US.

The luminous lights on homes and boats help bring smiles to both young and old as well as help those in need. Also, the good news is that the weather cooperated perfectly with the temperature in the high 50’s F and light winds for the nights of the boat parade. With the weather behaving, this will ensure that this year will be one of the best yet.

This home has Santa surrounded by seagulls with a sign saying, " I told Santa not to feed those birds."
This home has Santa surrounded by seagulls with a sign saying, ” I told Santa not to feed those birds.”
Santa is fishing and wishing a "Merry Christmas, Ya'll."
Santa is fishing and wishing a “Merry Christmas, Ya’ll.”
This home has a very tan Santa piloting a boat on top, Peanuts on bottom, and a nativity canal-side.
This home has a very tan Santa piloting a boat on top, Peanuts on bottom, and a nativity canal-side.
Some random flamingos dressed up for Christmas.
Some random flamingos dressed up for Christmas.
A dock that dazzles.
A dock that dazzles.
A very luminous boat at the La Posada boat parade.
A very luminous boat at the La Posada boat parade.
More lit-up boats at La Posada on Padre Island.
More lit-up boats at La Posada on Padre Island.

Feliz Navidad, Ya’ll

South Texas and the Coastal Bend  has its own twist on Christmas which is a
mix of ethnic and regional traditions.

Here Santa Claus clad in cowboy boots and hat can be found greeting kids with longhorns or horses pulling his sleigh. Cowboy boots often replace stockings next to the hearth.
You may hear the ding of cowbells rather than the jingle of sleigh bells. Wreaths of barbed wire instead of holly adorn entryways.

“Texan Santa” . Photo courtesy of reasonstobelieve.com

Here in South Texas with our close proximity to Mexico, there are other traditions and takes during this time of year. Tummies and hearts are warmed by tamales and menudo. Poitsettias of every color and Christmas cactus add festive color to homes in South Texas. Luminarias (lit candles with rocks in paper bags) welcome people to the front doors of many homes here.

Christmas tamales. Photo courtesy of http://www.eatmedaily.com
Menudo a tripe and hominy soup is a variation of pozole , a meat and hominy soup in central Mexico. It is a South Texas tradition. Photo courtesy of http://drosengarten.com/
Luminarias at Loreto Chapel at Presidio La Bahia. Photo courtesy of http://www.prweb.com/

Finally, the Coastal Bend does Christmas in its own way. Palms wrapped in twinkling lights adorn many yards. Also, seashells, sea stars, and sand dollars adorn trees and wreaths in these parts. Boats are bedecked and bedazzled in bright bulbs, and they will be at La Posada boat parade next weekend. It is an annual event on Padre Island.

Lights adorn palms for an atypical tropical Christmas.
Lights adorn palms for an atypical tropical Christmas.
Illuminated boats parade on Padre Island for "La Posada".
Illuminated boats parade on Padre Island for “La Posada”.

December Departure

As I was jogging by the beach, I tried to capture (with my I-Phone cam.) the ethereal essence of Padre Island this time of year.

Summer is but an ember in December. Quiet and contemplative, the coast re-creates itself. Seaside serenity sets in.

The seawall on North Padre is completely empty of people.
The seawall on North Padre is completely quiet.
Chairs neatly stacked suggest Winter is here.
Chairs neatly stacked suggest Winter is here.
A snack shack is zipped in for a slumber.
Fall flowers replace purple dune flowers.
Fall flowers replace purple dune flowers.
Blank canvas beaches
Blank canvas beaches

I couldn’t help it, but I kept thinking of the Don Henley song of the Boys of Summer . Actually, this time of year is a beautiful time at the beach.