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Arizona Daily Star 2015

Volunteers create free costumes for the Procession of Little Angels

Arizona Daily Star •  OCTOBER 24, 2015 7:30 AM  •  BY ANGELA PITTENGER

The Procession of Little Angels, a family event in which children participate in art events and a finale to honor and celebrate loved ones who have died, takes place Nov. 7.

Costuming is a huge part of the event, with children dressing up as anything from angels and skeletons to animals and mystical creatures.

For families who need help putting a costume together, free workshops are being held twice a week, through Nov. 4.

Families don’t have to have a firm idea when they walk through the door. Inspiration often comes from sifting through the piles of donated fabric and materials the costumes are made from, said Jhon Sanders, the procession’s director.

“Often we brainstorm with them on the spot about what they want to do or be,” Sanders said.

Then a volunteer sewing team of professionals puts the costume together.

“I like working with the kids and their families to create their vision,” said Kari Cadenhead, a professional seamstress who volunteers at the workshops. “We make a lot of pretty angel dresses or animals and some cool skeleton stuff. The kids always make really cool wings.”

Family members are encouraged to participate in the costuming process by adding non-sewing elements as they can.

“Little Angels is differentiated from Halloween in spirit, so the sort of costuming we do there is first of all, homespun and not bought ready-made off a shelf, and secondly, has a particular emphasis on the magical, the otherworldly, the fantastic, or sometimes just the funky and the fancy, as opposed to manufactured pop culture and product,” Sanders said. “It’s not all about angels, either. When a kid puts on a pair of wings, they may well be thinking faerie or some other magical being.”

The workshops were started in 2008 to “encourage DIY festal culture” and to create a “more extended or seasonal experience for the Little Angels families beyond the event day itself,” Sanders said.

“Costuming has always been an intrinsic part of public celebration and the imaginative lives of kids,” Sanders said. “It helps to take one out of the ordinary space and time of their day to day lives and into the realm of the extraordinary.”

If you go
What: Kids costuming workshops for the Procession of Little Angels
When: 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays and 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Nov. 4
Where: Rhythm Industry, 1013 S. Tyndall Ave.
Cost: Free
More info:

About the Procession of Little Angels

The procession — which celebrates deceased loved ones from the perspective of a child — started in 2006 at Jacome Plaza as a response to feedback from families wanting to see an event produced specifically for children and their families, said Jhon Sanders.

After participating in various art activities, the children walk around Armory Park and participate in a finale where students from Tucson Circus Arts and Stories that Soar stage children’s stories about death, grief and loss.

Families are welcome to bring photographs or remembrances of children to place on the children’s altar which will also be at Armory Park during the event.

This year’s procession takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. November 7. Armory Park is located at 221 S. Sixth Ave.

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