CWU News

CWU to Host Annual Day of the Dead Commemorative Event on Friday

Day of the Dead Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of LatinX heritage living elsewhere, including in Kittitas County. It involves family and friends who gather to pray for and remember loved ones who have died, as a way to support their spiritual journey.

CWU will host a Day of the Dead commemoration on Friday, November 3. It will begin with a 5:00 p.m. processional from the Barge Hall courtyard to the Student Union and Recreation Center (SURC), if weather allows. There will be directional signs placed around campus.

Through 9:00 p.m., in the SURC Ballroom and Pit, there will be food vendors offering a choice of Mexican meal options for $5.00 (cash only) or less, craft tables, a photo booth, live Aztec dance performances, and music by CWU Mariachi del Centro and DJ Plug N Play. 

The event will also respect traditions connected with the holiday, such as altars to honor the deceased, sugar skulls, and marigolds. This year, artists from Seattle will display a sand tapestry and altar in the SURC Pit, starting Wednesday afternoon (November 1). 

Día de Muertos tends to be associated erroneously with Halloween, which is not its true intent or purpose.

“Día de Muertos is not meant to cause fear or to fear death,” said Veronica Gómez-Vilchis, CWU assistant director of Diversity. “It is actually Memorial Day for the LatinX community.  November 1 is to remember the children who have died.  November 2 is to remember the adults.  It is a representation of the circle of life.”

The university’s Center for Diversity and Social Justice Diversity (CDSJ) is sponsoring the public, family-friendly, which typically attracts than 400 people, including members of the campus and local LatinX communities. In addition, more people from non-Hispanic cultures are becoming interested and involved, based on the theme of honoring those who have passed away during the past year. 

“It is about remembering our loved ones, honoring their memory, talking about them, and reminiscing about who they were,” Gómez-Vilchis continued. “This is something anyone and everyone can relate to.”

The CWU event is set for Friday to allow for more people and families, who may otherwise have to miss it because of weekday work or school considerations, to participate. Those planning to attend are encouraged to bring photos of their family members to whom they want to pay respect.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNECSO) has placed  Día de Muertos on its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of radio services and integrated communications, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,