Home Culture The Artist Behind Jersey City Heights’ Dia de Los Muertos + Giant Puppet Parade

The Artist Behind Jersey City Heights’ Dia de Los Muertos + Giant Puppet Parade

by Jennifer Tripucka
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While there are unique Halloween 2022 celebrations throughout the Hoboken and Jersey City area, there is a very special annual event that happens in Jersey City Heights’ Riverview-Fisk Park. Taking place on Sunday, October 30th, the Riverview Farmers Market will host the 8th annual Dia de Los Muertos Festival (also known as Dias de Los Muertos, since it runs for multiple days) in partnership with local Mexican-American artist Santiago Cohen.

This year, the activities will be continuing throughout the week following the main event on Sunday, running through Friday, November 4th. Read on for more about the Riverview Farmers Market’s Dia de Los Muertos Festival + artist Santiago Cohen.

As the Creative Director behind the festival’s parade since 2014, Santiago Cohen created giant puppets by hand in his local studio. Annually, the community gets together to celebrate the Day of the Dead and participate in the parade — holding the puppets for all to see. Cohen also creates DIY kits for those who want to build their own puppets and participate in the parade

(Photo Credit: Santiago Cohen’s Facebook)

Cohen is no stranger to the arts — he has worked as a designer, illustrator and animator for HBO, the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and PBS, as well as illustrating and writing over 20 children’s books and graphic novels. His work in fine art has been shown in galleries and museums through the region, as well as in Mexico. For the Dia de Los Muertos event, he is the visionary behind the massive puppets.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Santiago Cohen (@elsan1)

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“As a visual storyteller I want the viewer of my work to discover subtle political, social or environmental narratives, and it doesn’t matter if we both see the same thing,” he shared with ProArts Jersey City. “When I work on my artwork I explore what is affecting me at that moment and try to find visual symbols to deal with my feelings. In my process, I depend on the mistakes that I make to correct them to make unusual and oneiric landscapes. I generally look for images that I love and combine them with memories of my life to tell the stories.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Santiago Cohen (@elsan1)

The event also hosts a communal memorial altar or “Ofrenda” — which is a tradition of the Mexican holiday. Attendees can bring food offerings or place photos of loved ones that have passed.


Throughout the week starting October 30th of this year, there will be events dedicated to the Day of the Dead Celebrations. Along with the parade, the free event will include live music from Mariachi Oro de Mexico and traditional Mexican dance group Sueno Americano, as well as others. The Riverview Neighborhood Association will also be hosting their annual Dog Costume Contest at 1PM.

See More: We Compiled A List of New Jersey-Inspired Halloween Costumes

The Riverview Farmers Market will also be partnering with several local businesses and organizations to bring the Mexican tradition to life throughout the week — through both window and ofrenda displays, as well as Days-of-the-Dead-themed activities and promotions.The Mexican Consulate of New York City is also pledging their support to the event for the first time this year, according to NJ.com.

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