Flight of Souls

Flight of Souls

A tradition unlike any other.

The Flight of Souls

In 2019, Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival debuted the Flight of Souls – the release of 100 live Monarch butterflies to commemorate and honor the dead.

While the festival paused during the COVID-19 pandemic, festival officials consulted with the Xerses Society, a nonprofit organization that promotes the conservation of North American pollinators. We wanted to find out if our festival might be impacting wild Monarchs by releasing farmed Monarch butterflies into the local habitat.

The short answer: yes.

In July 2022, the migratory Monarch butterfly was officially listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

That sealed the deal for us. Denton’s Day of the Dead wouldn’t harm this beautiful animal as it migrates to Mexico, where people regard them as the returning souls of the dead.

Join us this year on Oct. 26, 2024 to remember and honor those we’ve lost as we gather around the community ofrenda for a mariachi serenade to those remembered at the community altar.

Honoring Our Ancestors

In 2018, the Twilight Lantern & Costume Parade committee and Artists Enclave of Denton County built the first-ever community altar for Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival. A team of volunteer artists worked under the direction of Laura Gonzales, the co-chair of the Community Altar & Flight of Souls, to create an ofrenda — a traditional Mexican altar honoring the dead.

Continuing Tradition with a Community Altar

In 2023, Laura and her team built a new community altar – a bigger and better altar.

Community members are again invited to bring objects memorializing their dead loved ones – copies of photographs, poems, favorite food and drink – and place them on the altar. Attendees will also be invited to write the names of their dead loved ones on handmade Monarch butterflies to leave on the altar. (Objects will not be returned after the festival.)

At twilight, the altar will be illuminated and will become a float in the Twilight Lantern & Costume Parade. Join us in remembering and honoring the dead at the community altar. If you would like to volunteer to work at the altar during the festival, send an email to ddodparade@gmail.com.