How it Started
Jason Hernandez, an amazing contributor to the McKinney community, gave me a call in April 2021. We had never met before, I’d never heard of him. Someone gave him my name and number and he rang me up. He had this crazy idea of putting together a festival, sort of. He asked me if I’d ever heard of Día de los Muertos, which I had. He wanted to put together the first ever McKinney Día de los Muertos so those in the hispanic/Mexican culture could have a safe space to celebrate in their community. Jason was a part of Legacy Keepers of Old East McKinney, a non-profit that works to preserve the history of black and brown people in the McKinney community. He needed help in putting together an event that promised to be larger than anything they had put together before. I, of course, said yes. And wow! What a whirlwind it has been since the beginning!
We were first told by downtown city officials that we could expect maybe 2,000-3,000 attendees. This meant lots of plans from food/beverage, entertainment, decor, to safety and traffic plans. Our mighty committee was ready for the challenge though and we raised almost $28,000 in grants and sponsorships to fund an incredible event. Our creative director and team of volunteers created beautiful themed decor to create the perfect setting. Our contest director recruited judges and donated prizes for our best Catrin and Catrinas. Our vendor coordinator made sure all the vendors had a spot to show off their Dia de los Muertos wares. Our marketing coordinator took care of presentations and all social media. I served as the logistics coordinator and took care of permits, rentals, site planning, safety planning, sponsor management, website creation and overall management of the committee and event.
McKinney Día de los Muertos was a huge success that first year with 3,000 attendees! We had just over 30 vendors with authentic Día de los Muertos products, delicious food trucks serving hispanic food and AMAZING entertainment throughout the entire day. The community showed up in amazing Catrin & La Catrina outfits and our contest was a hit. All of our sponsors and vendors were thrilled and returned for 2022. For 2022, we had more vendors and sponsors, along with 5,000 attendees! This has become a annual event in the McKinney community, attracting visitors from all over the state.
Attendees had this to say about the event:
Great people, great food, great music, great vendors and so much fun dancing. Thank you Jason Hernandez and Legacy Keepers of Old East McKinney for another outstanding #DiaDeLosMuertos community event! – McKinney City Council Member Dr. Gere Feltus
The annual Día de los Muertos brings such beauty, love, and culture to McKinney’s Mitchell Park. – Visit McKinney
Thanks to the volunteers and organizers of Dia de los Muertos. I went with my family and had a great time. The churros with dulce de leche from “El Gordo” were delicious. everything was very nice and well organized, many colors everywhere and particularly the fountain and the altars were beautiful. I hope this family festival it happens every year! – Elizabeth Mosca, attendee
The McKinney Día de los Muertos event is such an honor to be a part of and I hope you’ll consider attending. The next is planned for October 14, 2023. See you there!