AP NEWS

Main Event: Traditional Mexican event is fundraiser for special preschool

December 27, 2017 GMT

It was a celebration of the traditions of the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos, at the first annual Day of the Dead Dinner, Nov. 3 at Peace United Church of Christ. More than 100 people attended the event, which was a benefit for Listos Preschool and Childcare, and raised $4,200 to fund scholarships and programming at the center.

The evening included authentic Mexican food — pozole, tostadas and churros — traditional dance performances, cultural displays, and a silent auction.

“We have a saying,” said Veronica Flock, Day of the Dead dinner chairwoman. “As long as you have music, dance and food, everything will be OK.”

In opening remarks to dinner attendees, Flock explained the tradition of Dia de los Muertos.

“It’s an ancient tradition that emerged in the country of Mexico, and is a mix of Christianity and indigenous culture.”

Twelve original pieces inspired by Mexican folk art sugar skulls were auctioned off during the evening. Each of the pieces was created by a local artist.

Josephine Bauza, one of the artists who painted a plaster skull for the celebration, attended the event with her niece, Alessandra Bauza, and her sister, Sara Bauza.

“I have done something like this before,” Josephine said. “We do this in our country.”

The Bauzas said they wanted to attend the dinner not just in support of Listos, but also in celebration of life.

“My sister has conquered cancer,” Sara said. “Tonight we are celebrating life.”

Helen and Don Staley attended the dinner in support of Flock, their friend. Having previously vacationed in Mexico, the Staleys were hoping to learn more about the culture and traditions surrounding Dia de los Muertos.

Marie Neher, who attended with her daughter, Sarah Neher, was part of the original group that founded Listos.

“We were looking at having a preschool here, and Christina (Valdez, director of Listos) approached us with her idea. It was a good match.”

Attendees Sarah and Ed Dodd have a son enrolled in Listos.

“We were excited to learn it was a dual immersion school,” Ed said.

Sarah said she grew up in Colorado, in an area with many native speaking Spanish.

“I know how useful it is to be able to speak two languages,” she said.“Listos is really doing good work.”

Ana Johnson, a Listos board member, attended the event with friends Eddie Olson, and Jen and John Bruce.

Johnson said she had previously been to a Day of the Dead celebration in the Twin Cities area, but she was glad Listos was hosting one.

“This is awesome, I’m glad it’s here,” she said.

Joy Balls-Berry attended the dinner with her mother, Joyce Balls.

“This night is an opportunity to celebrate the heritage that Listos is bringing to the community, the expanding cultural awareness about diversity.”

Listos, which means both smart and ready in Spanish, is Rochester’s first and only Spanish-English immersion preschool and childcare facility. It opened its doors in 2015 and provides half day and full day programming to children ages 3 to 5 years old.

For more information, visit www.listoskids.org.