With candles in hand and burning sage in the air, St. Roch streets were packed Tuesday for the annual Day of the Dead procession on the final night of the multi-day holiday.
The gathering, which started at Marigny Street and North Villere Street and ended at the St. Roch cemetery, is a Mexican tradition sprinkled with New Orleans style so people can remember those who have died this year.
“This tradition is the bridge between our deceased and us,” said Roberto Carrillo, a procession organizer with the Krewe De Mayahuel.
Carrillo says this year the gathering especially aims to honor the millions around the world lost to COVID.
“It’s been a difficult year, there are a lot of people who left us in this pandemic,” said Carrillo.
A similar feeling from Louisa Lickman, a social worker, who came specifically to pay her respects to the many health care workers lost during the early days of the pandemic.
“Ritual is really important. I think this is a way to honor ritual, and it's a ritual of celebrating the dead,” said Lickman and she is not alone in this feeling.
“This is a reminder that we are still here and we want to celebrate life as well as the lives that we’ve lost,” said Margie Perez, “And this is the best way to do it.”
In addition to honoring those lives lost, many here say an event like this, for some their first since Mardi Gras 2020, allows them to connect with their neighbors and friends in person instead of through a video screen.
“Because, yes, there is zoom and video calls or whatever but nothing beats human warmth,” said Carrillo.