Honoring Departed Loved Ones


The Progress

Ruby Vargas, with face all painted for Dia de los Muertos, loads up on popcorn, pastries and other treats at a Mesquite community event held on Monday, Nov. 2. PHOTO BY AMY DAVIS/The Progress.

The Mesquite Heritage Museum hosted its first annual Candlelight Walk through Veteran’s Cemetery on Monday, Nov. 2. The event was planned in celebration of the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos and was followed by a screening of the Disney film “Coco.”

The activity began at the Nevada Welcome Center. Community members decorated a luminary to place near the headstone of a loved one.

A gentle glow from these luminaries could be seen throughout the cemetery as people walked from gravesite to gravesite to honor and remember the departed.

Following the candlelight walk, “Coco” was shown on a large screen projector. Community members were treated to Mexican pastries, white chocolate popcorn and water bottles.

Families in attendance brought blankets and chairs to sit on and enjoy the movie. There were well over 100 people in attendance for this free event.

Noma Gene Houston pays her respects to her namesake Aunt Noma by placing luminaries on her gravesite in the Mesquite cemetery during a Dia de los Muertes celebration last week. PHOTO BY AMY DAVIS/The Progress.

“This is a Hispanic tradition for the day of the dead,” said local resident Wendy Stuve. “It is how we honor our ancestors and our loved ones who have passed. We hope to bring their spirits back for just one night.”

Stuve has three loved ones buried in the cemetery. “We made a luminary and walked around the cemetery,” she said. “We said prayers and put down some of their favorites foods and snacks.”

Though Dia de los Muertos is a holiday with Aztec roots that originated in Mexico, it is celebrated all over Latin America. It is believed that during this two-day holiday, loved ones who have already passed beyond this life, may briefly return to visit with family members.

“We have lots of people who are buried in this cemetery and we wanted to come out and show our support,” says local resident Bethany Green. “I also have two children who are Hispanic, and I want them to know their heritage. We just wanted to come out and have a fun and safe night with the family outside.”

Four-year-old Brodie Hunzeker admitted that she doesn’t have any family members buried in the cemetery. But she came to enjoy the magic of the evening with her family.

“I am here to watch a movie tonight,” she said. “We walked through the cemetery and I liked it. The lights were so pretty.”

Denise Houston said that her family was there to honor her family member, Noma Houston. “My little girl Noma Gene is named after her,” said Houston.

Young Noma and her brother Duke, both created luminaries to leave at their Aunt Noma’s headstone.
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