Every year at Fiesta time, a giant white and black figure with madcap hair and huge eyes sneaks into Fort Marcy Park. It’s Zozobra, or Old Man Gloom, originally created by Santa Fe artist Will Shuster in 1924. He’s there to bring nothing but sorrow to the city — that is, until the populace gathers around to see the huge puppet go up in smoke and flames to chants of “Burn him!”
As he blazes up, Zozobra takes with him hundreds, even thousands of symbols of bad luck that Santa Feans have stuffed inside him — everything from paid-off mortgages and old wedding dresses to memos of office problems or poems recalling sorrows. It’s a heart-warming sight, though recent years have seen a lower live turnout.and complaints about the event’s logistics and price.