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The burning of Zozobra is a long-standing New Mexico tradition

This year marks the 90th annual Burning of Zozobra, a New Mexican tradition since 1926. In Santa Fe, just a short 60 mile drive north of Albuquerque, is where this meaningful tradition takes place and kicks off the city’s fiestas. Zozobra is a giant puppet like structure made of muslin and stuffed with shredded paper and was first introduced by local artist William Shuster.

Before Zozobra burns
Suzanna Chavez

Zozobra stands over 50 feet tall and resembles a ghost or a monster and is sometimes referred to as Old Man Gloom. At Fort Marcy Park, where Zozobra is burned, fiesta goers have the opportunity to write down their personal worries and concerns and these are added to the paper stuffing. The idea behind placing these scripts inside the puppet is that the negativity is burned away with Old Man Gloom.

The ceremony begins with a fire dancers performance that will eventually light the large puppet with flamed torches. As he burns, Zozobra makes wailing noises and flails his arms about and a spectacular fireworks display takes place simultaneously. The crowd cheers on loudly as Zozobra burns to the ground.

This is a fun, family friendly event. Bring a blanket to relax and watch the entertainment before the show gets started. Food trucks are available with a variety of delicious fare to choose; the kids will love the fair-like paraphernalia.

The Burning of Zozobra takes place on Friday, August 29, 2014; gates open at 3:00pm. Fort Marcy Park is just a few blocks from the historic Santa Fe Plaza, which is located downtown. Tickets can be purchased easily online and some physical locations until 4:00 the day of the event. Tickets are $10 each and children 10 years and younger are free.

Come witness the exciting fiery demise of Zozobra and experience all the accumulated feelings of doom and gloom from the past year burn to the ground.

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