It was a cool, raw morning in Detroit. Some might call it “football weather”. Others might see it as a perfect morning for running and dancing in historic cemeteries. I know that might sound a bit odd, and in fact it looked a bit odd. But it was all in the name of honoring the dead.

This morning was the Run of the Dead which took place in southwest Detroit.

The Run is part of a 5-day Celebration of the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It is a holiday celebrated mainly in Mexico, and by people of Mexican heritage living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember the relatives and loved ones who have passed away. Traditions include building private altars (ofrendas) honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed. Traditions also include visiting graves with these items as gifts. The Day is a Celebration of the lives of those we love, and a commitment to never forget them.

The 5K and 10K races wound through Holy Cross and Woodmere Cemeteries. Runners started at Patton Park and were encouraged to wear costumes and ribbons to honor the deceased. To cheer on the runners and add to the ambiance and honor, the Living Arts dance group put on a spectacular show.

In the beginning, the dancers hid behind the gravestones lining the main road through Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery.

As the first runners approached, the music began and the dancers sprang into action.

Not all of the runners were in costume, but many were. They were happy to see the dancers who danced beautifully and cheered them on.

Nobody seemed to mind the overcast skies and damp weather.

The dancers were joyful and carried on all the while the 800 runners went by.

The costumed runners put on quite a show for the folks who came to watch and honor their deceased loved ones.

And all the while…

… the dancers danced on!

Eventually the runners made their way around the loop through the cemetery and came back by the dancers on their way out of the cemetery. It was just at that time that the sun came out and cast a beautiful golden morning glow on the scene.

And then in a matter of minutes the runners left Holy Cross Cemetery, racing on to the finish line.

Most of those who came to watch the event, myself included, then made their way to the grave sites of their loved ones to visit and honor them. It really was an entertaining and poignant way to honor the deceased in these historic cemeteries.

It’s a time for remembering and honoring our ancestors and our Catholic faith.

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