The Burning of Zozobra 2015

zozobra1Few events grab the attention of a Santa Fe native like the burning of Zozobra. This annual event draws enormous crowds to Ft. Marcy Park on an evening in September, and if you’re considering becoming a local, this is the event NOT to miss. In fact, I don’t know if you can truthfully claim to be a local if you haven’t been to Zozobra at least once and stood in the screaming crowd yelling, “Burn Him! Burn Him! Burn Him!” It feels a bit like a pagan ritual with a lot of fun and visiting thrown in.

Sounds nuts, right? Except that it isn’t. It’s one of my favorite Santa Fe events. I’ve been going since 1986 when one of my Albuquerque friends insisted I bring little Zachary, who was four at the time, AND a blanket AND an umbrella (it’s September in Santa Fe, right?) AND a sack full of the food that we never allow ourselves to eat otherwise. Spray Cheese. Ding Dongs. Twinkies. Swizzlers. Ruffles Potato Chips. Oreos. “We’re going to overindulge and burn Old Man Gloom,” Patty Williams said, and I nodded my head, wide-eyed and said, “Okay.”

So what is it? For those of you with no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the description straight off the official website:

“Zozobra is a hideous but harmless fifty-foot bogeyman marionette. He is a toothless, empty-headed

Finishing Zozo - From the Kiwanis official Zozobra website

Finishing Zozo – From the Kiwanis official Zozobra website

facade. He has no guts and doesn’t have a leg to stand on. He is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. He never wins. He moans and groans, rolls his eyes and twists his head. His mouth gapes and chomps. His arms flail about in frustration. Every year we do him in. We string him up and burn him down in a blaze of fireworks. At last he is gone, taking with him all our troubles for another whole year. Santa Fe celebrates another victory.¬†Viva la Fiesta!” A.W. Denninger

The burning of Zozobra kicks off our annual celebration, Fiestas de Santa Fe (about which I’ll blog on Thursday). Fiestas dates back to 1712 and is the oldest civic celebration in the nation. Renowned Santa Fe artist Will Schuster added Zozobra to the Fiestas events in 1924. The Kiwanis Clubs of Santa Fe sponsor and build the 50 foot effigy of Old Man Gloom a/k/a Zozobra, and THEN we gather at Ft. Marcy for the biggest party Santa Fe throws all year.

This year’s burning of Zozobra commemorates the 1930s, which means that the effigy will be built to look like Schuster’s designs of that decade. We are at Zozobra burning number 91, and it will take place this Friday, September 4th, with the gates opening¬†at 3 p.m. at Ft. Marcy Park (just north of downtown at the corner of Bishop’s Lodge Road and Artist Road). All roads to Ft. Marcy Park and the surrounding neighborhood will be closed off at 3, so plan to park somewhere downtown and walk. And arrive early to stake your piece of ground (thus the blanket).

The Railrunner will have special trains from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. The last two trains will depart Santa Fe for Albuquerque at 11:05 and 11:25 p.m., with shuttles running from Paseo de Peralta and Grant Street to the Capitol Station, from which these trains will depart. Find a downloadable PDF of the Railrunner’s Zozobra schedule here.

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Tickets? They’re $10 a head and kids under 10 get in free. Find them here.

And then go shopping for all those forbidden foods you never allow yourself to eat. We’re burning Old Man Gloom, folks. This requires a serious celebration!

(By the way, no alcohol, although you’re sure to find some old timers on a blanket nearby who tend to slip a flask in their boot. . .)

See you there!

Bunny Terry 505.504.1101

130 Lincoln Avenue Santa Fe, NM 87501