Traditional Halloween activities are taking on a new twist in Norcross, during a special cultural event called “BOOfest.”
New this year, BOOfest combines the colorful Mexican celebration “Day of the Dead” with the lighter side of Halloween, adding a dash of the spiritual magic behind African masks and Lowcountry Gullah, according to a press release.
From October 23 – 31, both kids and adults are invited to join in mask-making workshops, storytelling, building and decorating a traditional altar, a film, a bike-decorating contest, a “Mask-Parade” and more.
“Dia de los Muertos is very dear to the Mexican culture,” Gina Espinosa, an artist and one of the event’s volunteer organizers, said in a press release. “If you don’t understand what’s behind it, the skeletons can seem kind of scary, but in truth, this is a very positive and uplifting spiritual opportunity for people to remember and celebrate loved ones who have passed.”
The tradition is steeped with Catholic and pre-Colombian symbolism, which visitors can learn about while making colorful skeleton masks and helping decorate a large altar which will be set up inside the Vargas Harbin Gallery Studio on South Peachtree Street. After-school mask-making classes will be offered at the Robert D. Fowler YMCA, and African and Mexican mask exhibits and mask-making workshops for both kids and adults will be held at the Norcross Arts Center and the Vargas & Harbin Studio Gallery in downtown Norcross.
Downtown’s Mexican restaurant Zapata will also have special “Day of the Dead” tequilas and adult face-painting. Iron Horse Tavern will have their annual adult costume contest. The Welcome Center is hosting a free film called “Gullah Tales,” and Norcross local Sally Toole will offer “Haunted History Walks” throughout the 100-year-old community.
Kids are encouraged to decorate their bikes and show off their Halloween costumes and mask creations at the Mask-Parade. This is free to anyone who wants to join, and will be in Lillian Webb Park beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27.
“BOOfest is typical Norcross in that it’s creative and a bit outside the box,” Debbie Harris, Programs Administrator at the Robert D. Fowler YMCA, one of the event sponsors, said in a press release. “It’s really exciting to help put together an event that recognizes the different cultures in the area and makes it this much fun to learn about them.”
BOOfest is a Norcross Together event, uniting community through art, shared cultural experiences and old-fashioned fun for both adults and kids. For activity details, updates and the BOOfest schedule, please visit www.aplacetoimagine.com.