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Day of the Dead alter in Veracruz, Mexico, sets new world record

A participant takes part in a James Bond-inspired Day of the Dead Parade, in Mexico City, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. The Hollywood-style parade was adopted in 2016 by Mexico City to mimic a fictitious march in the 2015 James Bond movie “Spectre.” (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)

XALAPA, Veracruz, Mexico (WISH) — Mexican officials in the State of Veracruz celebrated the Day of the Dead by breaking a record last week, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

On Oct. 31, organizers revealed a massive altar measuring 16,813.94 square feet. The display was decorated with 1,250 candles, 795 pieces of bread, 200 sugar skulls, and plenty of Cempasuchil or Mexican marigolds. Other items included traditional foods like tamales and ‘papel picado,’ or decorative ripped paper.

It happened in the state’s capital city of Xalapa, known for its festivities surrounding the holiday. Every year, it hosts the Xalapa Mictlán Festival leading up to the celebration.

World Record Adjudicator Susana Reyes says it was a great representation of the holiday’s traditions. “The greatness of this altar already lies in the deep respect and love for the tradition,” she said. “It is a pleasure for me to award this record title.”

The Day of the Dead is a special mix of Catholic and Aztec traditions, honoring the lives of loved ones. It’s a chance to retell the stories of family members and friends who have passed, not in mourning, but as a celebration.

Families put up altars full of art, pictures, food, and more representing people in their lives who have died to welcome their souls for Nov. 1 – 2 every year.

Guinness reports 700 people worked on the record-breaking alter for 24 hours straight.

The previous record was an altar measuring 13,050.19 sq. ft. People in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, unveiled the altar just three days before on Oct. 28.