A skull-faced crowd marches to remember.

It wasn’t your typical 4th Avenue party. As Tucson’s All Souls Procession lurched and drummed past the bars and clubs, the verve was there but the black-out drunks were missing. This was reason for pause.

No drunks?

In the short time I’ve been in town, the 4th Avenue strip has become my go-to for a good time. Seeing it so packed but so sober — so well-behaved — was weirder than the Victorian get-ups in the crowd and all the painted-on skulls. To joining-in was joining a solemn hive of disguised men, women and ghoulish toddlers communing with death.

They wheeled coffins and altars with open urns glued-on, burping ash at the bumps in the road. They carried portraits of lost loved-ones, lockets, and locks of hair to honor memories. The clunky feet of the living trailed the dead. It wasn’t a parade. It was a procession, a ritual.

“I came to remember my father and my brother,” said Alicia Armijo, 34, who helped friends push a wooden float with pinned on family photos down the two-mile course.

The ritual spurred a low chant that passed through the crowd in waves, something like the “Ah-ai” in the chorus of “The Macarena,” only deeper. It also spurred reflection. How are they doing wherever they are? How am I doing on earth?

“I want my daughter to know I love her, that every day I try to fight for someone who needs help just like she did. I learned that from her,” said Joy Willets, 46, of her activist daughter Catherine who died of cancer.

Defiance was a part of the procession too — my favorite part. There was Joseph Kittinger and his gang screaming, “Fuck the reaper! Come get me motherfucker!”

And the kids, being themselves, cracked their make-up smiling and fought over candy on the sidewalk. One smacked the ice cream off another’s cone: crazy people, lunatics full of life.

All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

1

Reaper and Co.

The Grim Reaper and other images of death pedal down 4th Avenue in Tucson, AZ as part of the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011. Amazingly, the bulk of this crowd was sober. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

2

Remembrance

Alicia Armijo, 34, marches in the Procession of Souls celebrating El Dia de los Muertos in Tucson, AZ, Sunday, November 6, 2011. Armijo said she marched in memory of her father and brother. For many in the procession, marching was a way to honor deceased family members. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

3

Three Skulls Weirder Than One

Patrick Carey, 44, dressed as a three-headed demon on 4th Avenue in Tucson, AZ, at the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011. Carey's freakish costume has made him a staple in the local news publications. Many wonder how the roots of Carey's vision actually reached the 10th level of hell. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

4

Beauty Help

Matt Dettinger, 25, paints a skull-face on Kendra Murray, 26, on University Avenue in Tucson, AZ, shortly before the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

5

Horny Devils

White-horned devils passed the Rialto Theater during the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Tucson, AZ. They appear to be looking for a port-a-potty. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

6

Smoke

Amber Perry, 21, burns incense at the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Tucson, AZ. I never understood why people burn incense when they're trying to relate to the supernatural. Ghosts don't have time to smell. They are too busy haunting rolling corn fields and wan blond children. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

7

Deadly Trio

L-R, Amanda Sapir, 35, Michael Moynihan, 50, and Debbie Ingraham, 55, carry pictures of loved ones on the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Tucson, AZ.

8

Putting Meat On Those Bones

L-R, Matt Packerd, 15, Madison Dodge, 15, and Cathy Tran, 16, enjoy a slice before the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Tucson, AZ. The trio was part of a teen band that played before the procession -- a band that hadn't eaten in weeks. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

9

Doritos

John Toritantis, 44, fuels up on ranch Doritos during the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Tucson, AZ. Ranch? Really? What are all those red specks? They look like spider mites. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

10

Night Flight

Winged skeletons fly over the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Tucson, AZ. Good thing the light was green. If they'd gone on yellow the traffic camera would have caught them. Then some clerk would have to send a ticket for $185.00 to the netherworld. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

11

Dead at the Circle-K

Lauren Pring, 26, and Alan Williams take a break from the parade at a Circle-K convenience store in downtown Tucson Sunday, November 6, 2011. The pair was part of the Tucson All Souls Procession celebrating El Dia De Los Muertos. They're not dating but Williams totally used this photo-op as an excuse to talk to Pring. Go, Williams. Woooooooot! All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

12

Big-Headed

A tall skull marches in the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Tucson, AZ. Few things are scarier than people on stilts, especially the new spring-loaded kind that seem to enhance agility. Give me a ghost over a bionic giant any day. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

13

Downtown

The crowd sweeps by Hotel Congress. Thousands took part in the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Tucson, AZ. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

14

Notes to the Dead

Calvin Harrison, 17, of Oro Valley and his mother, Kate, pen notes to their deceased loved-ones during the All Souls Procession Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Tucson, AZ. Thousands of notes were incinerated during the event's fiery finale. All photos by Daniel C. Britt.

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