Who is this “Zozobra” we have been speaking of so much lately? Pre-dating Nevada’s Burning Man by decades, Zozobra, also known as Old Man Gloom, is Santa Fe’s prescription for recovering from the year’s worries and glooms. This 50-foot-tall puppet is stuffed with bits of paper bearing all manner of gloomy thoughts, trials and tribulations that goes up in smoke on Friday, September 2 at Fort Marcy Park in The City Different.
Kick off your Labor Day weekend with an experience like none other and take part in one of one of the liveliest, longest-standing events around—The Burning of Zozobra!
From The Beginning
Zozobra was created in 1924 by artist Will Shuster and is now lovingly re-created each year by the Santa Fe Kiwanis Club. Zozobra is the enemy of all that is good, and Santa Fe knows only too well the spell of darkness and despair that Old Man Gloom can cast annually over The City Different.
Shuster, created the first Zozobra as the signature highlight of a private party given in his home for artists and writers in the Santa Fe area. He was inspired by the Holy Week celebrations of the Yaqui Indians of Mexico, where an effigy of Judas, filled with firecrackers, were led around the village on a donkey, and ultimately set alight. Shuster and his friend, E. Dana Johnson, editor of the local newspaper, came up with the name Zozobra, which was defined as “anguish, anxiety, gloom,” in Spanish as “the gloomy one.”
The Decades Project: The 1940’s
In preparation for the 100 year anniversary, the Decades Project is a 10-year journey through each of the successive decades of Zozobra’s history since his creation in 1924. During each successive year of the Decades Project, the Santa Fe Kiwanis Club recreates Zozobra by designing the entire event to evoke the style and substance of each individual decade, with that decade’s music, art and pop culture interjected into all the amusement.
The 2016 event will be year three of the Decades Project, which brings Zozobra into the 1940’s World War II era, steeped in history and cultural significance for our city, our country, and the world at large. September 1 is the 77th anniversary of the start of WWII and the 75th anniversary of the date when the Jewish population of Germany was ordered to wear a yellow Star of David, and gays, gypsies and outsiders were similarly marked and publicly shamed.
In recognition of the profound and far-reaching consequences of the era, the Kiwanis have joined together with the Santa Fe Jewish Center – Chabad to add to the Zozobra events a special Holocaust Memorial, taking place at 6:00 pm on Thursday, September 1 at Fort Marcy Ball Park. The event and candle light vigil will honor the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust.
The Burning of Zozobra: What You Need to Know
Video by Luke Fitch
Crowd pleasing entertainment at Fort Marcy Park begins on September 2 at 3:00 pm and the official ceremonies begin at 7:00 pm (weather permitting; rest assured that this is a rain-or-shine event and he WILL burn). We recommend you arrive at the park by 8:30 pm. You can view a map of the park by clicking here .
The admission price is $10 dollars per person and children under 10 free. Order your online tickets here. The City of Santa Fe has introduced a streamlined plan for parking this year. The city will charge a visitor a flat fee of $5 to park in all city downtown parking facilities from 4:00 pm to midnight on Friday, September 2. The city will also run a modified shuttle service to carry visitors from various parking lots to a location near the event site. There will also be expanded bus service from the South Capitol Rail Runner station to the burning, as well as free bus fares on the night of Zozobra. Check out this interactive map.
We are sure you will enjoy this revered and time honored event! Please note that this is NOT for agoraphobics, the faint of heart, or the youngest children.
If you plan on attending the festivities and staying in Santa Fe overnight, be aware that the Labor Day weekend schedule means you should book your hotel room well in advance!
There’s so much to see and do this Labor Day weekend. Read our blog, Five Santa Fe Events to Set Fire to Your Labor Day Weekend for more travel inspiration! Don’t forget to order your 2016 Santa Fe travel guide and to check out our Deals and Specials page to help plan your trip.