A home altar is set up for Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. The Mexican tradition remembers deceased family members, friends or significant individuals.
Updated: November 26, 2012 7:10AM
Halloween isn’t just about costumes and candy. From haunted houses, hikes and hayrides, to spooky tales and train rides, there are many fun events for all ages and tastes. Here are some events that I think are special treats.
† The annual Pullman Dia de los Muertos Altar Walk is a unique cultural, artistic and social event set in historic private homes in the Pullman Historic District in Chicago, from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.
Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, is a Mexican tradition in which deceased family members, friends or significant individuals are remembered. It is said to blend aspects of ancient traditions with the Christian All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, and Halloween-like contemporary art.
The tradition often includes creating a home altar honoring the deceased and celebrating their life. The altars generally include photos and other items reminiscent of their life, plus intricate paper cuttings, marigolds, candles and incense.
The decorative sugar skulls and skeletons that have come to be symbolic and decorative adornments of this holiday are reminiscent of Halloween decorations.
Five private homes in Pullman plus one art gallery will have altars and be open to the public for this event, which is also part of Chicago Artists Month, an annual October event showcasing a wide range of art.
Last year’s Altar Walk had altars ranging from simple tributes by the homeowner, with family on hand to share stories about the life of the subject with those who might be interested, to elaborate art installations in historic homes beautifully decorated for Dia de los Muertos and Halloween.
Most visitors walk from home to home, covering about a mile before getting back to the starting location, where a reception with food and beverages follows the altar walk.
Tickets are $15, and can be purchased on walk day at the home at 619 E. 111th St. This event is a fundraiser benefiting restoration work at the Hotel Florence. This once luxurious hotel was completed in 1881 to accommodate railroad executives who came to the company town of Pullman to do business with the railroad sleeping car manufacturer.
For more information, go to www.chicagoartistsmonth.org and search on Pullman.
You can see more interesting altars, in addition to Dia de los Muertos-inspired art, through Dec. 16 at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. in Chicago. The museum claims to have the largest annual Day of the Dead exhibition in the United States. The free museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
† The University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s fun annual Halloween concerts are from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St. The 100-piece orchestra will be joined by the U. of C. Chorus plus the Hyde Park School of Dance, all performing in costume, to this year’s theme of “The Wild, Wild West!”
The always wonderfully-costumed conductor makes a grand entrance, then offers humorous and interesting poetic introductions to each piece of music. Many audience members also attend in costume.
Donations are requested at the entrance, with $8 for adults and $4 for students suggested. Call (773) 702-8069 for more information.
Another unique Halloween-related event takes place on the U. of C. campus at the Oriental Institute, 1155 E. 58th St.
A film premier followed by a screening of the 1932 Boris Karloff film, “The Mummy,” begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25.
The first film is described as “thrilling,” and is an indie film about “lively” happenings when two boys go to the museum to research a homework assignment on mummification.
It includes clips from the Karloff film and scenes shot in the Oriental Institute. Register for the free event at (773) 702-9507. Costumes are encouraged, and prizes will be awarded to the best Egyptian costume.