Lorie Erlitz-Pagdon lit candles at a Green-Wood Cemetery Día de los Muertos altar last week in memory of her mother, father, brother, grandparents and victims from the coronavirus.
“I was afraid. I was afraid because of all of the heaviness we’re carrying around this year,” said Erlitz-Pagdon, owner of Burrito Republic in Glendale, Queens.
“I think we’re all at those breaking points so I’m trying to find a way to represent all of the people that have passed away from COVID this year but I don’t know how to do that. I don’t think we can. Our bodies and our souls are not equipped to carry this heaviness.”
For many, the Mexican tradition of Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) has taken on additional resonance during the pandemic.
Here are some more photos from across the city:
Dominican-American artist Scherezade García built this Green-Wood altar to memorialize the lives of New Yorkers lost to the coronavirus pandemic and other causes of death.
Caty Gallitelli and Paul Kalagassy made ofrendas (altars for offering) for their brothers, both of whom passed away within months of each other six years ago.
Gallitelli, a retired elementary school teacher, learned about Día de los Muertos from her students, most of whom, she says, were of Mexican descent.
Deborah Jean Raposo made an ofrenda of sugar, popcorn and pomegranate to her late mother on what would have been her birthday.
“My mother was an infamous snacker,” said the Park Slope resident. “It’s what gives me freedom. Having a mother that has passed has connected me more to spirit than ever before. It reminds me to also allow my daughter to have freedom.”
Casa Azul owners Alfonso Emilio Sanchez, left, Rifuna Lopez and Roberto Lopez created an altar at their Brooklyn restaurant as a way for both staff and patrons to have space to honor their loved ones.
“Everyone but one of our employees got sick. I’m thankful to God that all of us survived,” said Roberto Lopez.
“The problem is twofold. New York City isn’t like our land where we have these massive houses that we can dedicate a whole room to remembering the dead. Here, you run a higher risk when you’re inside with someone but luckily we have the restaurant space.”
Danza Tolteca Chichimeca perform a pre-Hispanic Aztec dance at the Mixteca Organization near Green-Wood Cemetery as part of Dia de Muertos celebrations.
Dancer Gustavo Arias performed at Mixteca Organization in Atlanchinolli regalia, an Aztec metaphor for war that uses the dichotomy between water and fire.
Members of Mexicanos Unidos marched through Times Square to honor victims of state-sanctioned violence.
“I’m here to honor my uncle who was killed as a result from gun violence,” said Yessenia Benítez.
“His name was Mario Ramirez and one day someone just walked into his restaurant and shot him where he stood behind the bar,” she said, recalling the 2016 killing in The Bronx. “It was the middle of the day with cameras and all. Most of the patrons are undocumented so they stayed quiet and did not cooperate with the police.”
The names of the dead adorn veladoras (prayer candles) at the Green-Wood altar.