CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Within 24 hours of each other, organizers of PRIDE Corpus Christi and the Dia de los Muertos Festival both announced they were scaling down their events for the second straight year, due to the pandemic.
“We just couldn’t, in good conscience, go forward in throwing such a crowded event,” said Michelle Smythe, a founder and director of the Dia de los Muertos Festival. “We don’t want to contribute to the problem. We don’t want to contribute to more people going to the hospital, we don’t want to contribute to more people getting sick.”
“As much as we would love to have PRIDE events in October, it just doesn’t make sense. We have to put the priority on our public’s health and safety,” said Tom Tagliabue, the President of PRIDE Corpus Christi.
Both events will still have things for people to do, but will be held on a much smaller scale.
For PRIDE, the Poetry Pop Up Market and Poetry Night planned for Oct. 2, the parade and block party planned Oct. 9, and the Family Fun Day scheduled for Oct. 23 at the St. Paul United Church of Christ were all canceled. Instead, the Corpus Christi Art & History Museum will have an exhibit from the Stonewall National History Museum in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The exhibit will be at the museum all of October, and will focus on the history of the Stonewall Riots and the LGBTQIA+ community.
“These events don’t take place without great community support, without businesses coming in and wanting to be sponsors of our events. We had tremendous support this year, and people really wanted to do a PRIDE event. In our hearts, we want to be together, we want to celebrate, we want to have a reason to get together. But, in our minds and our brains, we knew the right decision was we can’t risk putting people’s health in jeopardy, and it doesn’t make sense to have in-person events in October,” Tagliabue said.
Organizers of the Dia de los Muertos Festival canceled the large outdoor portion of the festival. Instead, there will be smaller events, like a community art exhibit with the theme ‘Mil Milagros,’ a youth art exhibition for kids in grades six to 12, a piñata contest, an arts & crafts expo at K Space Contemporary, and a tribute to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. There will also be a community altar display inside the Ritz Theater, with special hours for the last week of October and first week of November.
“We can’t accept as many vendors as we can on the street, so it will be smaller, but we will have a way for some of our vendors to make some money,” Smythe said.
Smythe said it was not an easy decision to make canceling events for the Dia de los Muertos Festival.
“We don’t want to disappoint everybody, it’s such a fun event, such a beloved event. It’s a tough decision to make, we thought about it a long time before we made that final decision,” she said.
For supporters and attendees of the events, it is particularly disappointing to have the events scaled down, and important aspects of the celebrations canceled, for the second straight year.
“We are very community oriented here in the Coastal Bend, and we like to be around each other and support each other, and the fact that, for the second year in a row, because of the pandemic, we’re not able to do that. Earlier in the year, and over the summer, it looked like we were going to be able to come together again and start celebrating our community, but unfortunately, that took a downturn,” said Eric Holguin, who has been attending PRIDE since it started in Corpus Christi.
However, Holguin is optimistic that 2022 will bring the events back to their former glory.
“The fact that, for the second year in a row, it isn’t happening is sad, but I know we’re going to pick it up next year, once we get our acts together,” he said.