clock menu more-arrow no yes
Lorie Erlitz-Pagdon, 47, lights a ​veladora​ in memory of her family at the Green-Wood Historic Chapel, Oct. 25, 2020.
Lorie Erlitz-Pagdon, 47, lights a ​veladora​ in memory of her family at Green-Wood Cemetery’s chapel.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

Filed under:

Photos: NYC Day of the Dead Celebrations Honor Those Lost

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:

Dominica-American artist Scherezade García erected a Dia de Muertos​ alter at Green-Wood Cemetery to memorialize the lives of New Yorkers lost to the Coronavirus pandemic and other causes of death, Oct. 25, 2020.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/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,70, and Paul Kalagassy,71, made Ofrendas​ to their brothers,  who both passed away within months of each other six years ago. Gallitelli, a retired elementary school teacher, learned about ​Dia de Muertos​ from her students, most of which she says were of Mexican descent, Oct. 25, 2020. Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

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. Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

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 alter at their Brooklyn restaurant as a safe way for people to honor their loved ones during the coronavirus outbreak, Oct. 27, 2020. Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

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, Oct. 30, 2020. Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

​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 polarities between water and fire for symbolism, Oct. 30 2020. Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

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 march through Times Square to honor victims of state-sanctioned violence, Oct. 31, 2020. Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

Members of Mexicanos Unidos marched through Times Square to honor victims of state-sanctioned violence.


Yessenia ​Benítez took part in the Mexicanos Unidos march to honor her uncle who was killed from gun violence, Oct. 31, 2020. Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

“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.”


Each day since opening on Oct. 23, Green-Wood cemetery has distributed veladoras​, Spanish for candles, to visitors with a black space to put the name of people they’d like to honor at their ​Dia de Muertos​ altar. Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

The names of the dead adorn veladoras​ (prayer candles) at the Green-Wood altar.

9/11

How Towers Tragedy Reverberates in Staten Island, a Ferry Ride Away From Ground Zero

9/11

How Bullying and Spying on Muslims After 9/11 Spawned a Justice-Seeking Generation

Economy

NYC College Neighborhood Businesses Eagerly Await Return of Students

View all stories in Life

Sign up for the newsletter Get THE CITY Scoop

Sign up and get the latest stories from THE CITY delivered to you each morning