Last year’s column about the annual All Souls Procession was one of the most controversial in the history of The Logical Lizard and sparked a spirited debate in which I was accused of being—among other things—elitist. So, we’re going to try and avoid all that this year and only think positive! And in case you imagine that I was, perhaps, criticizing the amazing and wonderful All Souls Procession, please think again and know that was not the case at all. Rather, I was curious and more than a little concerned about what the future might hold for this dazzling and stellar event, as it faces that most terrifying of all propositions for cutting-edge arts events: rapid growth.
Each year I am genuinely amazed when I meet a few Tucsonans who have grown up here and yet never attended All Souls—or worse yet, never even heard of it. Along with the annual gem show in February and the Open Studio tours, All Souls is one of Tucson’s most magical, important and original events. It truly is the night of nights.
As has already been well documented, our fabulous November parade was the brainchild of local artist Susan Johnson, who conceived All Souls as a Tucson artists’ retrofit of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos. Ms. Johnson’s initial performance in 1990 honored her late father and—as the years went by—the number of participants grew to staggering proportions. Costumes, masks, glowsticks, floats, burning cauldrons, marching drum circles, and a mind bending end-of-procession pyrotechnic blowout by the mighty Flam Chen are all rolled up into a spooky, brilliant, heart-racing, kid-friendly spectacle which nobody who has any interest in the arts, costumes, fire dancing, or unbridled revelry should ever miss.
Marchers begin to congregate in front of Epic Cafe around 5 pm and the procession begins at 6 pm. Bring a flaming torch, or your pet monster, or maybe a bat with glow-in-the-dark eyes, or even a skeleton in a wheeled coffin, and be amazed by what Tucson’s brightest and wackiest artists have come up with this year. And, for the finale tonight, I gather from my agents that Flam Chen has something special in store for us.
It is the 21st annual Tucson All Souls Procession, so bring out yer dead, and throw ‘em on the cart. Long live All Souls! It makes Halloween look like a tea party.
All photographs by Geoffrey Notkin © Geoffrey Notkin. All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.