Day of the Dead has arrived.
More than 20 years ago, when creeped-out customers spotted the skeleton figurines and sugar skulls at Picánte Designs, they’d accuse store owner Hazel Rugg of being a witch — or worse, of ripping off the Grateful Dead.
Nowadays, the holiday — Diá de los Muertos, in Spanish — that honors the dead by building altars, decorating graves and holding processions, is widely known. In fact, Disney tried to trademark it earlier this year to plug an upcoming movie. Rugg’s even seen Pottery Barn promoting the holiday.
“There’s been a huge increase in awareness about it,” says Rugg, whose Picánte Designs is at 2932 E. Broadway.
The store, which carries folk art, clothes and jewelry, offers Day of the Dead items all year long. You’ll find traditional figurines, plastic molds for making skull-shaped chocolates, even colorful glass ornaments made in Poland.
“I can’t tell you how many gringos come in and they’re making an altar,” says Rugg with a laugh. “Like me, I’m a gringa — I’ve made altars. It’s a wonderful tradition. It’s life-affirming and positive. It really focuses on the positive aspects of your loved ones, remembering them in the very best ways with food and drink and all of their favorite things. … It’s a great holiday.”