My wife and I are Burners of 10-plus years. We love the annual big, dusty dance in the Northen Nevada desert for so many reasons—the art, the environment, our friends in camp, new friends and burning the man. We are also Guardians of the Temple. This past year, we worked nine straight days in this special place on the Playa. We hold space for the structure, the builders, volunteers and our fellow Burners, and watch over the spiritual home of our desert tribe so that the Temple isn't damaged before it's burned. We also help participants on their journeys, accepting and placing ashes and memorials while giving out a million hugs. Death and grieving are not anything most folks think about when they talk up Burning Man.
Now fast-forward to Halloween—a time when many ancient and modern peoples believe the veil between life and death to be thin and fragile, and feel they can almost touch death and talk to those who've passed. That's the basis for the ever-so-popular Día de los Muertos celebrations: Getting close and personal with the Grim Reaper and those beyond the grave. It just so happens that our friend Jorge Fierro is inviting all of us to come to a special alter he's setting up on Nov. 5 to honor the dead in a more traditional way. We're encouraged to bring photos of our own dearly departed to place on the alter during the party.
You might know of Fierro. He owns Frida's Bistro and Rico's foods at 545 W. 700 South in Salt Lake City. This is the 14th year he's thrown a muertos party for new and current friends. The event features a variety of festive food, live music, games and activities for kids like face painting, and Mexican art for sale. "Calavera, Calabaza y Comida!" takes place Saturday, Nov. 5, from 6-11 p.m. Admission is a small donation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Proceeds go toward a charitable group called Race Swami to support a swim team made up of about 150 west side kids. In his free time, Fierro serves on the team's board of directors. If you go to TeamUnify.com, you can find out how to become a Swami. It's a close-knit community of kids and adults based in Rose Park and Glendale, with kids welcome from virtually any west side neighborhood. Their goal is to empower youth to be champions in and out of the water.