Woy Woy’s `Day of the Dead’ festival to remember loved ones
- GERALDINE CARDOZO
- CENTRAL COAST GOSFORD EXPRESS ADVOCATE
- NOVEMBER 01, 2013 5:00AM
Day of the Dead organiser Kim Ryder and Raichyl Bantine hanging photos under the tree in Woy Woy. Source: News Limited
COMEDIAN Spike Milligan once referred to Woy Woy as the “world’s only above-ground cemetery”.
Now the peninsula suburb is living up to its reputation, with the coast’s first Day of The Dead festival.
In a nod to the colourful Mexican Day of the Dead festival, in which people honour loved ones who have died, the peninsula is hosting its own celebration this Saturday.
The inaugural community picnic is the brainchild of Ettalong Beach mother and end-of-life photographer Kim Ryder.
She says her fascination with “society’s last taboo” was sparked after a near-death experience in 1997.
“This changed my outlook on life forever and then my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died in 2008,” Ms Ryder said.
A woman in dressed up as death poses in Mexico city, during preparations for Day of the Dead celebrations. The tradition includes building altars honouring deceased relatives. Picture: AfpSource: AFP
“This was my first first-hand experience with death and I started thinking about how we, as a society, don’t deal with death very well.
“It just gets tucked away in hospital rooms and we don’t talk about it.
“I’ve always been interested in death, which I know sounds funny, and some people think I’m crazy.”
She said the Day of the Dead community picnic is not about “being offensive or in anyone’s face”.
“There might be some tears and that’s fine,” Ms Ryder said. “We’re taking a ‘soft’ approach to death and this is definitely a family-friendly event.
A man carries a skeleton in preparation for the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Picture: APSource: AP
“There will be an ancestor altar where people will be invited to light a candle or bring a photo or item to place on their picnic blanket in memory of a loved-one who has passed away.”
There will also be guest speakers from other cultures, including Brazil and Argentina sharing their personal death experiences and customs.
“Some people are so terrified of our own mortality that they can’t even consider it,” Ms Ryder said. “Everyone dies. I’m simply providing the space to discuss it.”
Ms Ryder also runs regular Death Cafe events and death workshops on the coast. “It’s OK to remember and talk about those who have died,” she said. “It’s quite normal.”
WHAT: Day of the Dead community picnic
WHEN: Saturday, November 2, 11am-2pm
WHERE: Waterfront Reserve, Brick Wharf Rd, Woy Woy (just next to the War Memorial Gardens under the big Moreton Bay Fig Tree)
COST: $5-$10 family donation
DETAILS: 0406 502 715