A mid-week Halloween always offers a great opportunity to spread out the ghoulish fun over two weekends, and with the growing popularity of the Day of the Dead there’s no good reason to stop the revelry.
That’s particularly true in Fort Lauderdale this Friday, Nov. 2, when the third annual South Florida Day of the Dead Celebration takes over downtown with a free five-hour bash and skeleton processional. That will be followed by the official after party at The Mai-Kai.
* Official website | Facebook page | Facebook event
The celebration will take place from 6 to 11 p.m. in the FAT Village Arts District just north of downtown. Led by a mariachi band, the processional will start at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art at 6:15 and wind its way north on Andrews Avenue to Northwest Fifth Street, ending at FAT Village.
Participants are invited to don skeletal attire and join the processional of giant puppets, stilt walkers, floats, drummers, circus performers, and more. At FAT Village, revelers can enjoy art, crafts, music, theater and much more. The Boneyard Bandstand will feature sets by local bands The Riot Act (6 p.m.), Los Diablos (7 p.m.), Arboles Libres (8 p.m.), Bobby Lee Rodgers (9 p.m.), and Everymen (10 p.m.)
Many area art galleries will participate with exhibits and installations. Indie crafters will be selling their wares in the Craft Crypt, and the carnival atmosphere will be enhanced by theatrical productions, performance art, body painting and other activities.
The celebration is the brainchild of Jim Hammond, 42, a former puppet master for the Broadway tour of The Lion King. His Puppet Network hosts classes and workshops, makes sets and props for theater and movies, and creates custom productions for clients. His vision is to capture the ambience of Mexico’s traditional El Dia de los Muertos featuring bright flowers and skeletons but infuse it with a modern aesthetic. The event is touted as providing “memory for the dead and a party for the living.”
* New Times: Inside Jim Hammond’s puppet parade
At 11 p.m., the party moves from downtown to the historic Mai-Kai Polynesian restaurant for an after-party hosted by Exotica A-Go-Go. This free dance party will feature an all-star cast of DJs – Action Pat, James Brown’s Sweat, Mikey “The Ripper” Ramirez, and Sensitive Side – spinning soul and retro classics.
Partygoers are encouraged to wear their Day of the Dead or Halloween costumes as they enjoy the late-night happy hour from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Most of The Mai-Kai’s classic cocktails will be half off during this free event.