In Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Denver residents are gearing up for blow-out celebrations next week
By 2050, nearly a quarter of U.S. citizens will be Hispanic, and Latin influence is giving everyone's holiday calendar new occasions to have fun. The Day of the Dead, the flamboyant Mexican festival honoring the dearly departed with parades, food, and dancing, happens November 1 and 2:
In Pilsen (around 18th St. and Ashland Ave.), people paint their faces to resemble skeletons and hang up papel picado (paper cutouts of grinning ghouls). Nearby, the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum displays the country's biggest annual Day of the Dead folk art exhibition. 1852 W. 19th St., 312/738-1503, mfacmchicago.org.
After a traditional candlelit procession, piñatas are bashed--the candy-packed targets are usually in the shape of unpopular politicians. 3659 Navajo St., 303/458-6058, pirateart.org.
As mariachi bands stroll along Olvera Street, revelers in face paint and calaveras--papier-mâché skull masks--eat skull-shaped pan de muerto, the "bread of the dead" flavored with anise and orange peel. Meanwhile, kids batter piñatas. 213/485-6855, olvera-street.com.
Texas's oldest such celebration includes willowy, white-clad dancers doing the light-footed Dance of the Dead. Las Palmas Mall, 803 Castroville Rd., 210/432-1896, sacalaveras.com.
In America's largest Day of the Dead march, some 10,000 celebrants head to Garfield Square (Balmy Alley and 25th St.), where dozens of colorful, homemade altars to loved ones will be on display.