Día de los Muertos celebrations kick off early at Maxwell Street Market

Vendors lined the street, and people trickled in for the Maxwell Street Market Dia De Los Muertos Halloween Celebration on Sunday. They say it's nice to have an opportunity to celebrate Mexican Heritage and small businesses around the city.

"Trying to keep this culture alive and reconnect people with Mexican traditions," said Alondra Valdes.

Alondra and her mother, Sonia, own Huipil Boutique. They offer an opportunity to buy not only colorful, handcrafted items but also items that tell a story.

"These dolls originate from the state of Queretaro, Mexico. They were kind of like the Barbie doll back in the day for the indigenous community. Saying they didn’t really have that access, but they created their own dolls," said Valdes.

The Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead event, offers them a space to connect with customers face-to-face rather than online.

Alondra says she’s always happy to answer questions about her business and Mexican heritage.

"Day of the Dead is a joyful celebration, so we are coming together and celebrating the memory of our lost loved ones, so we’ll do that a lot through our community," said Nikki Butler, Maxwell Street Market Manager.

People shopped, kids played, and the sound of music and the smell of sizzling authentic Mexican food filled the air.

Aracely Zarco felt called to come, mostly because the event collaborated with the Chicago Vintage Festival.

"I felt like there was a purpose here because I am like Hispanic. I am Latina," said Zarco, "I did grow up going to my local Goodwill, going to a religious sale, a Salvation Army, so it brings back memories of myself while I was growing up with my mom."

"It doesn't matter what background you’re from, and we’re hoping you can learn to appreciate it and even celebrate it yourself, and it’s a way to honor your loved ones," said Valdes.

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events says having free events like this around the city gives everyone an opportunity to meet neighbors and get involved.