Lively Celebration

Appears in the October 2022 issue.

An ofrenda at Santori Public Library.

From altars and Aztec dancers to painted storefronts and pan de muerto, there’s plenty to experience at Sugar Skull City, running October 15 through November 6 in downtown Aurora. Think of these three weeks of festivities as an extended Día de los Muertos fete.

“Sugar skulls are part of the Day of the Dead tradition,” explains Marissa Amoni, manager of Aurora Downtown. “Sugar Skull City is representative of our Day of the Dead celebrations in downtown Aurora as we boast several Hispanic-owned businesses and we pay tribute to our city’s cultural heritage.”

It’s an opportunity to learn about Mexican culture. “Educators and families can utilize resources on the website, and everyone is invited to take part in a downtown scavenger hunt and various activities,” Amoni says. “It gets everyone involved in a treasured cultural tradition.”

The event culminates November 4 with an evening of numerous Day of the Dead celebrations as part of Aurora’s First Fridays series, followed by the Sugar Skull City Art and Market, open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. November 5 at Society 57 (100 S. River St.)

“We hope that thousands will attend over the three weeks,” Amoni says. “Thirty-plus businesses typically participate in First Fridays. All of our events welcome all ages and all abilities.”

Storefront of Society 57

Three downtown Mexican bakeries will be serving up the aforementioned pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”), a traditional Mexican sweet bread, including La Central Bakery (110 E. Galena Blvd.), Cinco de Mayo Bakery (102 N. Lake St.), and La France Bakery (118 E. Galena Blvd.) In that same spirit, other local restaurants will be offering special menu items, such as a pumpkin margarita at La Quinta de los Reyes (36 E. New York St.), the Altar Burger and Churros Bread Pudding at Gillerson’s Grubbery (33 W. New York St.), and a Day of the Dead cocktail at French 75 Gallery & Lounge (56 E. Galena Blvd.)

Take a self-guided tour of the festive storefronts decorated by local artists or create a traditional altar for honoring the dead for the ofrenda contest at Santori Public Library (101 S. River St.)

For a full event schedule and map, visit If you’d like to try DIYing your own sugar skulls, the website offers a video tutorial for those as well as making papel picado (paper banners) and building an ofrenda

Photos courtesy of Joe Weber (Ofrenda) and Aurora Downtown (Storefront)