Day of the Dead altars offer healing, solace for San Antonio community

A community altar can be seen at corner of Guadalupe St., South Colorado St.

Dia de los Muertos is so important to the San Antonio community and right now there are special alters all around the city.

SAN ANTONIO – Dia de los Muertos is so important to the San Antonio community and right now there are special alters all around the city.

La Buena Gente de Esperanza is ready for their annual celebration, which is held at the Rinconcito de Esperanza from Nov. 1 through Nov. 8.

The group is building a large community altar at the corner of Guadalupe Street & South Colorado Street to honor community members held dear to their hearts, as well as the many victims from COVID-19 -- a number that is more than 4,900 in Bexar County.

“(My) Mama just passed away this June of a stroke, she was two weeks shy of her 98th birthday,” Graciela Sanchez, director of Esperanza Peace and Justice center said.

Dia de los Muertos is a special time for Sanchez, and especially this year.

”My aunt, she died of COVID and we just buried her last week,” Sanchez said.

COVID-19 has been so tough on so many people in and around san Antonio.

”We’re offering an opportunity this year to showcase community alters by the people from this community,” Sanchez said.

The community altar at the corner has dozens of pictures of friends and family. It is open the public 24-7. If interested, you can put pictures of your love ones up until Nov. 8.

”Locally on the West Side or if they’re passing by, they are invited to bring images -- make copies, we don’t want originals, but we display some on the community altar and it’ll be up for a week so we can honor those who have passed away,” Sanchez said.

The pictures honor those who have passed, but there are other elements with special significance.

”Other elements like having water, having salt, having fire, so candles and maybe some incense. The marigolds bringing it up, bring the smells out so that the spirit is attracted to the altar,” Sanchez said. “We wanna keep up the tradition and not just commercialize day of the dead.”

The day has seen more and more community members take part. As for Graciela Sanchez, she is soaking in the time of remembrance.

”Everything I do, I just keep on saying OK, this is what she told me, this is what I learned from her and I am continuing to keep those traditions, her values constantly with me and I hope that one day I grow to be as a wonderful human being as she was,” Sanchez said.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.