IRVING PARK — Neighbors in the Irving Park neighborhood are building an altar, or ofrenda, in remembrance of those lost to gun violence across Chicago for Día De Los Muertos.
People can drop by the second floor of HANA Center, 4300 N. California Ave., to view the ofrenda or add to it from Friday afternoon through Saturday at 8 p.m.
The idea for remembering victims of gun violence during Día De Los Muertos came about after a vigil that was held in Albany Park last month for Roberto Ramirez, who was fatally shot on Oct. 20 while he was parked in a vehicle in the 4400 block of North Bernard Street.
“We did a rapid community response and did a peace march from Horner Park to the intersection where Ramirez was killed,” said Erica Smith, a volunteer with the Lincoln Square’s Moms Demand Action group.
Following that march, the community started talking about what they could do next to honor Ramirez and others killed by gun violence.
“And with Día De Los Muertos approaching it just made sense to do something like this,” Smith said.
Smith reached out to Dalia Aragon, a member of Israel’s Gifts of Hope, about the idea and the two groups collaborated on setting up an ofrenda at HANA, which sits across the street from Horner Park.
“When Erica pitched the idea we were pretty excited. My family didn’t start making ofrendas at home until my brother passed away,” Aragon said.
Her foundation works to support the friends and family of people who have been victims of Chicago’s gun violence. Aragon helped co-found it after she lost her brother, Israel Aragon, Jr., to gun violence in 2016.
As of Friday afternoon the ofrenda include a photo of Aragon’s brother alongside over a dozen memorials for people like Carlos Pagan, the 19-year-old who was fatally shot walking with friends on Aug. 2.
“So it was just nice to realize that other people do care, even if they haven’t lost a loved one to gun violence in Chicago,” Aragon said. “Being able to include families from not just Albany Park is exciting too, because people in other neighborhoods have lost family too. At the end of the day, this is for anyone and we wanted to offer them a place to honor family. Offer them a place to show that they’re not forgotten.”
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