A Night of Remembrance: Tucson’s 34th annual All Souls Procession

The horn of a conch shell signals the beginning of the procession, led by women in ghostly white garb chanting and dancing to deep drumbeats.

Urn ambassadors preparing to lead the procession.

At first, the procession is relatively slow, stopping and starting to allow onlookers to write notes to be deposited into the large urn behind the leaders. One woman silently holds out a basket, an offer to accept a slip of paper inside; a memory, or perhaps a prayer, or a simple, “I miss you”.

One of the Urn’s attendants collecting notes from the crowd.

The procession snakes its way up Grande, the quiet footsteps punctuated by the beats of participants’ loved ones’ favorite music or occasional teams of dancers. One woman dances relentlessly to a stream of Latin hip hop, a lit photo of a woman smiling above the speakers.

Many participants carried photos or small signs, while others had more elaborate displays.

Some onlookers slip into the crowd to lengthen the parade, and faces of both living and deceased make their way to Avenida del Convento, where the finale is set to begin.

Hundreds of people congregated in the plaza towards the end of the night.

Tucson’s 34th annual All Souls Procession brought thousands of people together on the evening of November 7th to celebrate, honor and remember lost loved ones. The event had between 80,000 and 100,000 attendees, according to the Tucson Fire Department, many of whom stayed late into the night to witness the finale in which the giant steel urn and the notes inside was hoisted by crane above the crowd and set alight.

The event culminated in the final cathartic event: the burning of the Urn.

“Our collective hopes, prayers, love, grief, memories, tributes, and remembrances are consumed by the flames and dissolve into the ether.

-All Souls Procession website