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Day of the Dead at Green Lawn Cemetery celebrates ancestors, food, art

Mitch Hooper

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What do you think of when someone mentions Halloween? Here in the states, it typically means haunted houses, costumed parties, scary movies, and of course, pumpkin spice everything. It’s a chance to explore horror, a time to be silly (or sexy), and above all, it’s a small break from reality. But not all things October are escapist or ghoulish, Día de los Muertos—Day of the Dead for those who failed Spanish 101—is a cultural celebration that dates back to the Aztecs.

The original Day of the Dead celebrations took place in the beginning of summer, and eventually moved to coincide with All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day. Families and friends would prepare a picnic to eat at the graves of their loved ones as they shared memories to keep the spirits of those now gone alive. The mood was celebratory, stemming from cultural beliefs that the dead would not approve of mourning.

This celebration is something Leticia Vazquez-Smith, president of Latino Arts for Humanity in Columbus, holds close to her heart, as she grew up in Mexico City. Those memories stuck with her when she moved to Ohio in 1999 and became the basis for how she began celebrating here in the States. It started in her apartment where she was asked to give a presentation on something she loved. Naturally, she picked Day of the Dead. With a full heart, she did things such as making traditional dishes like tamales for the community members looking to stop by.

“I wanted to share the roots of the real thing,” Vazquez- Smith explained.

But, that was 20 years ago. Now, the crowd is too large for her home and she and Latino Arts for Humanity have partnered with Green Lawn Cemetery for a Day of the Dead celebration with authentic Mexican food, calaveritas (sugar skulls) poem readings, and music, and dancing from Latino community members in Columbus.

What started as a passion has blossomed into a citywide event where more than 2,000 people will show up, pay respects, and experience a cultural happening that might be difficult to find in a state more than 2,000 miles away from its origin.

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The Columbus Day of the Dead celebration will be on Oct. 19, and will include traditional food trucks, music and dancers, art vendors, and educational courses for children. Each year’s celebration offers a new theme for visitors, and this year will focus on the ocean. In keeping with the celebration of life, the entire day has been “greened”—from vendors avoiding single-use plastic items to educational conversations about pollution.

Vazquez-Smith said in the years past, the event had been held out of almost anywhere they could find, such as galleries in the Short North or warehouses around town. But once she and her team discovered Green Lawn Cemetery hosted outdoor movie screenings, an idea was planted. They wondered if the cemetery would be interested in hosting a Day of the Dead celebration and Green Lawn happily obliged.

“When Green Lawn was founded, it was meant to be in-part green space for the city; in-part a place where people could come out, walk the trails, and have picnics. It was meant to be more than a place to bury your dad, but also come out and celebrate and remember their ancestors,” said Randy Rogers, president of the Green Lawn Cemetery Association.

This idea of celebrating ancestors, having picnics, and all the steps in between parallels nicely with Day of the Dead. And for Rogers, inclusivity is something he finds very important as Green Lawn Cemetery is a space that has grown with the community around it. Green Lawn is without many regulations for burial sites and markers, which allows different groups to express their cultural beliefs, even in death. A partnership with Latino Arts for Humanity for a Day of the Dead celebration seemed to be the perfect expression of that philosophy.

“I always equate it with the writings of Dante, Dante’s epic poem, ‘La Vita Nuova.’ He’s writing about his new life after the death of his love,” Rogers explained. “As he tells that story, he also talks about her new life in the afterlife and that carries through as he encounters her again in The Inferno. And that’s kind of like Day of the Dead because you’re celebrating the lives of your ancestors after they passed— you’re celebrating their new life in the afterlife.”

This theme of inclusivity runs deeper. Vazquez-Smith said this year she expects a wide variety of cultures to attend ranging from African-American communities to Midwesterners who grew up right here their entire lives. For the Mexico City native, this is exactly what she had hoped for.

“Day of the Dead shouldn’t be an only Mexican tradition. We’re all going to die, that’s a fact. If you have time to do a little grieving, sharing your food with your family, it’s something the society here doesn’t have. They don’t have that day to be free to talk to the people who are not here body wise,” Vazquez-Smith said. “Everything is about the thought of living and dying. Any kind of culture that wants to come and do something with us, they are welcome. It’s for everybody.”

Green Lawn Cemetery is located on 1000 Green Lawn Avenue. The Day of the Dead event will take place on Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

millennial | writer | human

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Things To Do

Brick by Brick: Lego popup bar is the ultimate nostalgia trip

614now Staff

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With playsets encompassing everything from Harry Potter to Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Legos remain a go-to for kids of all ages. Now, the colorful little blocks are preparing for their greatest team-up of all—with booze, of course!

A new popup event called "The Brick Bar" is bringing the fun of Legos to a bar near you for an exclusive 2-day engagement this March.

Bringing over 1 million blocks to the party, the event organizers will transform The Kitchen at 231 E Livingston Ave. with unique lego sculptures, as well as an abundance of blocks for people to shape into their own creations. Prizes for the best builders, DJs, and a ping-pong table (built entirely from Lego bricks, of course) are also in the mix for your nostalgia-driven enjoyment.

For ticket information, dates, and more, visit The Brick Bar Eventbrite page or follow them on Facebook.

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Things To Do

Hit Your Peak: 3 worth-the-drive ski slopes near Columbus

Asa Herron

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The cursed Ohio Winter Monster has made its presence known to all with its 5pm sunsets, snow storms, and seasonal depression for all. How are you going to fight back against the gloom this year? It may seem like it’s impossible to do fun things with your friends or to stay active in the winter, but I’m here to tell you that not all hope is lost. Finding a new hobby is a great way to kick your winter woes to the curb and start the new decade on a good foot.

Skiing can be a great way to casually exercise with friends and resuscitate your serotonin levels. Here are three high quality places to ski within driving distance of Columbus for you to check out.

MAD RIVER MOUNTAIN

Located in Zanesfield, Mad River Mountain is about an hour's drive northwest of Columbus. They have the most reasonable prices of all the nearby ski resorts. Plus, their on-property bar, The Loft, has 12 taps of craft beers on rotation to add a little more fun to the night. Mad River is open until 1 a.m. on Fridays, too, so you’re getting a full Friday night of flurries.

Mad River is home to over 20 trails (spanning 3.9 miles) and four terrain parks making it the largest ski resort in Ohio. They also bolster ten ski lifts (the most in Ohio) and are tied with Snowtrails for the largest vertical drop in the state with their 300 foot slope. An added perk of Mad River is that they just built a new $6.2 million facility in 2016 to replace the space they lost to a fire in 2015. Plus, most of their trails are designated “easy” difficulty. Mad River has everything you need to have a relaxing, affordable day of skiing.

Details on hours and pricing can be found at www.skimadriver.com.

SNOWTRAILS

Founded in 1961, Snowtrails is Ohio’s oldest ski resort. It is located in Mansfield, so also about an hour drive north. This resort is only slightly more expensive, with lift rates starting at $31 for midweek evenings and $52 for all-day on the weekends, with skis, boots, and pole rentals are $37. If there’s one day this month that you visit Snowtrails, let it be January 25 for their mid-season party. Get ready for an outdoor DJ, a custom built snowbar, and a fireworks show 30 minutes after the slopes close for the night. Not into skiing? No problem! The party is free and open to the public, so let your expert friends hit the slopes while you hit the spirits at the snow bar.

Snowtrails is the second largest resort in the state with six ski lifts and 3.3 miles of trails. The majority of their trails are designated “intermediate” difficulty, so more experienced skiers will enjoy their time here.

More information can be found at www. snowtrails.com.

BOSTON MILLS & BRANDYWINE

Boston Mills & Brandywine is the farthest ski resort from Columbus on this list, but great for a full weekend away. This quaint resort is in Peninsula, OH is a two hour drive from Central Ohio. Their pricing is $40 after 3:30 p.m. and $45 for an all-day pass. Staying another night? Come back on Saturday for $5 Late Nights admission from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM.

Boston Mill & Brandywine ski resort is known for being especially conducive to beginning skiers. They offer high quality lessons and will walk you through the process. This is the place to go if you have “stupid” questions about skiing, or just want to tube. However, they also appeal to veteran skiers as the majority of their 18 trails are designated “advanced”. Despite the high quantity of trails, this resort is much smaller than the other two, with only 1.2 miles of skiable trails, and their largest vertical drop being 264 feet. But for these prices? Could definitely be worth the trip.

Learn more about Boston Mills & Brandywine at www.bmbw.com.

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Arts & Culture

Watch: “World’s largest mural” in Short North is more than meets the eye

Regina Fox

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At a glance, "The Journey AR Mural" adorning the Graduate Columbus hotel in Short North is stunning. Look a little harder, and it actually comes to life.

Standing at over 107 feet tall and over 11,000 square feet of augmented reality, "The Journey AR Mural," is the world's largest AR mural, offering technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

The gaily-painted snapdragons, hibiscus, Easter lilies, and hummingbirds bloom and fly when viewed through the Journey AR Mural app (free for iPhone and Android). Watch the murals come to life in the video below.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7PRvBxpBkI/

Los Angeles-based artists Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes (going by “Yanoe” and “Zoueh," respectively) are the creatives behind the project.

In an interview with Short North Arts District, Skotnes revealed he was inspired to take on the project after learning that Columbus is home to the second largest population of Somali immigrants in the country—he hopes the murals symbolize strength and prosperity for its viewers.

To learn more about The Journey AR Mural, visit shortnorth.org.

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