Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Events

Dia de los Muertos celebration in Dunedin canceled this year by hurricane

Chalk up one more closure to Hurricane Irma: The huge Dia de los Muertos Fiesta originally planned for Saturday in Dunedin has been scrapped for what would have been its 25th year.

Tina Avila, the co-owner of the funky Dunedin restaurant Casa Tina that has hosted the Mexican heritage celebration since 1992, said it was a "heart-breaking" decision. But when Hurricane Irma ripped through Dunedin on Sept. 10, many of the giant puppets used in the annual Day of the Dead parade were damaged, as was the storage area the restaurant uses to store its many folk artifacts. The restaurant was closed for a week and then, Avila said, she didn’t have the heart to ask the hundreds of volunteers typically needed for their time.

"People were under so much stress, we didn’t think it was fair to ask people to volunteer their time," Avila said. "And I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m only just now recovered at home with our cleanup."

The restaurant has been hosting a Day of the Dead celebration since 1992 and in the last eight years even moved outside to Pioneer Park where 5,000 people were drawn to a free celebration of Mexican heritage. The annual holiday pays reverence to loved ones who have died. It holds a deep spiritual meaning for restaurant owners Javier and Tina Avila.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Dunedin’s Casa Tina family finds faith in Day of the Dead

It has always been intended as gift to the community, Tina Avila said, one that cost them more than $5,000 in fees, security and entertainment to teach the public about the significance of the holiday as well as the history and culture of Mexico. It had grown to include performances, a play written by Avila, a fashion show, live music, Mexican food and folk art for sale.

"It was kind of a victim of its own success," Avila said. "It had grown so big, we couldn’t just turn it around after the hurricane."

It will be back again next year, she said. Even though Cinco de Mayo is the restaurant’s biggest annual event, this one holds more meaning to them personally.

"This is one that is most dear to us, so it was really heartbreaking to have to cancel."

Although the event is planned close to Halloween, it’s not about black cats and zombies. Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition dating back to pre-Columbian times honoring the deceased.

Amid incense-laden candlelit altars with photos and sugar skulls, the crowd carries candles as they join in a giant puppet procession featuring music and story telling.

The Avilas, who own two restaurants on Main Street, Casa Tina and Pan Y Vino, as well as the Orange Crate Cafe, which sits adjacent to the Pinellas Trail, have celebrated Dia de los Muertos ever since Casa Tina opened 25 years ago.

"But it really grew for us after Tina and I went with our daughter to Patzcuaro, Mexico, to see the celebration there,’’ said Javier in a 2014 interview with the Times. Javier grew up in Guadalajara but did not celebrate the Day of the Dead as a child in a Christian family.

"To see it in Patzcuaro, which is known for having a really big Dia de los Muertos, was so emotional. People paid such attention to the details of the person who died. It was incredible. It made me think of my father. I cried, and (my daughter) Amanda cried, seeing me cry,’’ he said. "It is about evoking deep memories.’’

"We have loved introducing this to Dunedin,’’ he said. "We see this as a little present to thank the community and our customers, and we get to show them the customs of Mexico.’’

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] Follow @SharonKWn.

Comments
Review: Ace Atkins’ ‘The Sinners’ a bloody, and funny, trip to the altar

Review: Ace Atkins’ ‘The Sinners’ a bloody, and funny, trip to the altar

There’s always so much to deal with in the weeks before your wedding. For Quinn Colson, there’s his mother’s threat to sing Elvis karaoke if he doesn’t hire a band, the question of whether his long-gone stuntman daddy will show up at all, his bride-t...
Published: 07/18/18
Bowled over: From acai to poke, the top 10 bowls in Tampa Bay

Bowled over: From acai to poke, the top 10 bowls in Tampa Bay

Why, exactly, are bowls the new plates? The Wall Street Journal declared it so. Tableware companies like Fiesta have reported serious double-digit growth in the sale of bowls, salad bowls, cereal bowls, you name it. Fast-food restaurants have jumped...
Published: 07/17/18
Grief and wit, heritage and family dynamics collide in ‘Bad Jews’ at American Stage

Grief and wit, heritage and family dynamics collide in ‘Bad Jews’ at American Stage

ST. PETERSBURG — Whatever else he learned at Cornell University and the Juilliard School, playwright Joshua Harmon surely learned family dynamics. His play, Bad Jews, bristles with wit and malevolence dished out by people for whom familiarity breeds ...
Published: 07/17/18
When black performers use their ‘white voice’

When black performers use their ‘white voice’

In Sorry to Bother You, the wily satirical debut feature from Boots Riley, Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) lands a job at a telemarketing company, where the first rule is "Stick to the script." He stumbles during his first few calls, unable to conn...
Published: 07/17/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 18

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 18

Broadway Musical Movies: Mary Poppins: In conjunction with Ruth Eckerd Hall announcing its 2018-2019 Broadway Season, Capitol Theatre presents a series of Tony Award winning musicals that have made their way to movie theaters. Upgrade to $9 and add u...
Published: 07/17/18
1,100 cookie jars. 2000 Hummels. 23 chamber pots: This Tampa Bay couple collects... well, everything.

1,100 cookie jars. 2000 Hummels. 23 chamber pots: This Tampa Bay couple collects... well, everything.

TAMPA — To be a large, clumsy person in Mary and Dennis Schrader’s house is to feel fear.You tread lightly upstairs, but even so, every step in the room containing row after row of cookie jars brings the sound of ceramic lids rattling on their oh-so-...
Published: 07/16/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 17

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 17

James After 5: Art Speaks: The museum is open from 5 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday, featuring $5 admission. While there, tour the many exhibitions of Western and wildlife art, or find happy hour specials in the Canyon Cafe. 5 p.m., James Museum of Western ...
Published: 07/16/18

Pasco Events starting July 20

21 SaturdayMedicare 101: A SHINE volunteer will answer Medicare questions. 10 a.m. Free. Land O’ Lakes Library, 2818 Collier Parkway, Land O’ Lakes. (813) 929-1214. floridashine.org.22 SundayEssential Oils Workshop: Learn about essential oils and cr...
Published: 07/16/18

Things to Do in Pasco and Hernando Counties starting July 20

FestivalsDade City Antique Faire and Sidewalk Market: Browse a mixture of antiques, primitives, garden decor, jewelry, tools, shabby chic, architectural and vintage when this monthly street event returns from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 21 in downtown Dad...
Published: 07/16/18

Hernando Events for July 20

Events20 FridayButterfly Count: Learn to identify common Florida butterflies and how organized butterfly counts work. The count information will be used to populate data in pollinators of Florida for Florida Nature Trackers. For ages 12 and older. No...
Published: 07/13/18
Updated: 07/16/18