Día de los Muertos at Pinney Branch Library
Sharing Cultural Richness
By Hedi Rudd

“Day of the Dead is a celebration of our ancestors and the gift of life and all of the other
cultural gifts that they have given us,” shared Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores, a Madison native, who
recently attended the “Day of the Dead” or Dia de los Meurtos and live mural painting event
held October 27 at the Pinney Branch Library.

The event was organized by Araceli Esparza and featured a live mural painting by Rodrigo
Carapia, a local artist originally from Mexico City. Day of the Dead is officially celebrated
November 1st and 2nd, but events take place in the weeks leading up to and after the official
holiday and preparation is as much fun as the observation itself.

Araceli is a first generation Mexican American who has crafted a space for herself in the local
community. Her business, Wisconsin Mujer, provides small businesses and non-profits
considerable experience in social media and marketing, targeting the Latinx community, but
also helping to translate the culture back to the larger community in a way that celebrates and

Kilfoy-Flores, who came to support Esparza shared, “Araceli and I go back to high school,
along with Silvia Gomez.  We were the three Amigas. This is how we support one another
culturally. I feel that is really important. Not only to support each other’s careers, but to support
ways for ourselves and our children to learn about our culture and our heritage.”
The cozy space at Pinney Branch Library was bustling with activity including sugar-skull
painting using marshmallows and coloring of characters in the “papel picado” Mexican paper-
cutting tradition. Champurrado, a Mexican hot chocolate, and Pan de Muertos or Mexican
Bread of the Dead were served.  Pan de Muertos is often eaten at the grave of a deceased
loved one along with their favorite foods and is delicious when dipped in the champurrado.
The ofrenda or altar is the focal point of the program and is where Esparza invited the young
people to gather and help her to complete the alter offerings. Already in place were colorful
papel picado, candles and calaveras from Mexico that Esparza had collected during her
travels to her homeland. Calaveras are beautifully and brightly painted skulls. Together they
placed water and salt to quench the thirst of loved ones traveling from beyond, as well as
marigolds, candy, fruit and a fresh Pan de Muertos, shaped into a skull.
Esparza finished the program by reading Dia de los Muertos, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, to a very engaged audience of young people who were not unfamiliar
with the customs and traditions, which meant a lot to Esparza who has shared Day of the Dead activities with families for the past five years.

More opportunities will take place to celebrate locally and learn more about the Day of the Dead, including:
•  November 10th Día de los Muertos Performance and Fundraiser at East High from 4-8pm
•  October 29-Nov 9th at Centro Hispano. Including building and altar tours and special events. For more information you can contact Karime at