Dia de los Muertos event in Salt Lake City creates new world record

Nov 1, 2022, 9:59 AM | Updated: Nov 18, 2022, 5:58 pm
Photos of family members are placed on a Dia de los Muertos ofrenda, or altar, at Trolley Square in...
Photos of family members are placed on a Dia de los Muertos ofrenda, or altar, at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City on Saturday. Over 1,200 photos were placed on the altar, breaking a Guinness World Record for the most pictures of loved ones on a Dia de los Muertos altar. (Sydnee Gonzalez/KSL.com)
(Sydnee Gonzalez/KSL.com)

SALT LAKE CITY — Over a hundred people participated in a Dia de los Muertos event at Trolley Square on Saturday, placing over 1,200 photos of their deceased loved ones on an altar.

The event was part of an attempt to establish a new Guinness World Record for the most pictures of loved ones on a Dia de los Muertos altar, also known as an ofrenda. The record category did not previously exist and nonprofit Una Mano Amiga, which hosted the event, is working on making the record official.

“This category does not exist; we were the first in the world,” Una Mano Amiga founder Rocio Mejia said. “We had a total of 1,205 photographs of deceased (individuals) locally, nationally and internationally.”

Dia de los Muertos, which translates to Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday with pre-Columbian roots that is celebrated annually on Nov. 1 and 2. As part of the event, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs director Nubia Peña read proclamations recognizing Dia de los Muertos on the county and state levels.

“These holidays are not just for one community; they’re for all Utahns,” Peña said. “This is a unified way of coming together to celebrate what many of us have experienced: a loss of a loved one.”

Marla Love, founder of Arte Primero and one of the event’s organizers, said the event is a reflection of Utah’s diversity — something she’s seen grow since she moved from California to Utah in 1993.

Students from Arte Primero, a bilingual art and dance studio listen to Arte Primero founder Marla Love and her mother, Una Mano Amiga founder Rocio Mejia during a Día de Los Muertos celebration on Saturday at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City. (Sydnee Gonzalez/KSL.com)

“It’s beautiful to see. As I see the audience, there’s people from all over the world,” Love said. “Day of the Dead, yes, is a Mexican holiday. But Day of the Dead is a celebration of people who have died, and the pain of losing someone is universal.”

She added that Mexican culture differs from many other cultures, where death is something to be feared.

“This is a celebration of those who have passed away,” said Love, whose family member’s photos were on the ofrenda. “This is a happy celebration.”

Utah state Sen. Luz Escamilla stressed the holiday’s family-centric focus and thanked Mejia, Una Mano Amiga’s founder, for continuing the holiday’s tradition in Utah.

“You see these beautiful children here today embracing history and culture and family and loved ones,” Escamilla said. “The vast amount of images here reflect all of us.”

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Dia de los Muertos event in Salt Lake City creates new world record