Celebrate With The Dead in Manitou Springs | By Wendy Wilkinson

Last Updated: October 16, 2018By

Come join the celebration on October 27 from 2 – 9 p.m. at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs when the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts and the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce host the first free to the public Festival de los Muertos following the annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races.

Emma was a Manitou resident who died of tuberculosis in 1898 and her dying wish was to be buried on top of Red Mountain above Manitou Springs, soher lover, William Hildebrand (a civil engineer on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway), and eleven other men carried her body up the 7,200 ft. slope. In1929, after years of stormy weather, her remains washed down the side of the mountain and into town. Now locals from all around race dozens of decorated coffins down Manitou Avenue in honor of Ms. Crawford.

“We came up with the idea for a coffin race more than 20 years ago to combine the city’s history with an unusual and fun event,” explains Leslie Lewis, Executive Director of the Manitou Chamber of Commerce. “I think there were six or seven coffins racing down Manitou Avenue the first year, and in 2017 there were 68 participants which were preceded by a Hearse parade.”

The Smokebrush Foundation in Manitou Springs has been celebrating the Mexican Cultural holiday of Dia de los Muertos for eight years by putting on an evening event named Noche de los Muertos. The annual performance includes circus-style performances, a symbolic skeleton burning ceremony to honor the dearly departed, face painting, fortune tellers and revelry all set against the backdrop of stunning visuals and Latin Gypsy music.

The event also includes a traditional ofrenda (altar), which gives homage to the dearly departed. This year the Foundation has joined forces with Manitou Springs to create an extravagant celebration at the conclusion of the coffin races. The Festival, with its deep roots in Mexican culture, bares similarities to Halloween, yet focuses more on honoring the memories of loved ones who have passed.

This year’s show will be the most extravagant to date — with musical performances by Noche-founders Adriana Rincon and Ryan Flores from Moonhoney, Viva la Noche, Roma Ransom, the New Depressionists, a surprise ArtPOP installation named “Sonder” by the Merikai Dance Studio, special dance performances, beer from Bristol Brewing Company and more!

Schedule of Events

2:00-3:00pm – Noche Showcase (samplings of music and entertainment featured throughout the afternoon into evening)

3:00-4:00pm – Merikai Dance Event, ArtPOP Installation

4:15-5:00pm – Roma Ransom

5:15-6:00pm – The New Depressionists

6:15-7:00pm – Moonhoney

7:15-8:00pm – Viva La Noche

8:10-9:00pm – Closing Ceremonies

Wendy Wilkinson has been a writer and publicist in the celebrity/lifestyle worlds for more than twenty-five years. Her work has been published in many national and regional publications including the Los AngelesTimes, Colorado Living Well, Cowboys & Indians, and Fit and Fit Yoga. As an author she co-wrote Parents at Last, Celebrating Adoption and the New Pathways to Parenthood, People We Know, Horses They Love, with cover Robert Redford, and Morgan Freeman & Friends, Caribbean Cooking for a Cause. 

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