Viva Día de los Muertos

October 2021 View more

By Christie Willhite

When Jose Torres moved to Aurora, he wanted to share an important tradition from his Mexican culture with his new community: el Día de los Muertos.

A dozen years ago, Torres welcomed six guests to his Day of the Dead celebration reuniting family with the souls of lost relatives. His Athziry Día de los Muertos foundation now plans community celebrations in Aurora that showcase the Mexican traditions through clothes, artwork, and more for hundreds of guests.

“I feel so proud about this event. It’s about the community, that’s important,” Torres says. “It’s a celebration of culture … and the idea that something better is coming.”

This year, his Day of the Dead events on November 6 will crown downtown Aurora’s Sugar Skull City festivities—three weeks that turn the city’s attention to the culture of its Mexican residents, while highlighting local artisans and businesses.

Beginning October 15, downtown shop windows will be painted with vibrant sugar skulls, La Catrina statues, and other Day of the Dead imagery. Visitors can tour the windows, browse special merchandise, take advantage of specials, and search for pictures of alebrijes, mythical animals from Mexican folk art. 

“Sugar Skull City is about honoring the Day of the Dead,” said Marissa Amoni, manager of Aurora Downtown, which coordinates the festivities. “It’s really a comprehensive celebration where we invite everyone to celebrate our Mexican restaurants, our Mexican bakeries, our Hispanic-owned businesses, and take a look at local art.”

Downtown Aurora’s three Mexican bakeries plan to offer sugar skulls and pan de muerto while restaurants will feature special menus and items, Amoni said. Altiro Latin Fusion restaurant plans to host a drag show, while Muebleria Sergio will sell dolls of La Catrina—who watches over the souls of the dead—and will display a five-foot sugar skull replica that Amoni says makes a terrific photo op. And the Cotton Seed Creative Exchange is encouraging its regular artisans to create pieces connecting with the Sugar Skull City theme, owner Yvonne Toney says. 

“We’re working around developing some children-themed items, things kids can take home,” Toney says. “We’ll center our portion of the event around family and community. We just want to make it a really fun atmosphere.”

Sugar Skull City events continue through November 7 and include Aurora Downtown’s November 5 First Friday festivities. 

Guia de eventos

Aurora’s Sugar Skull City continues online with a map of participating businesses, videos about making sugar skulls, downloadable coloring pages of alebrijes, and an opportunity to submit photos of homemade ofrendas (altars honoring lost loved ones) for a contest judged by the Aurora Public Library. For details, visit

Photos by Amy Nelson