Children watching construction of Zozobra (Old Man Gloom), Santa Fe Fiesta, 1959; photo by Steve Northup, Negative No. 010909. Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA)
- Burn him, but not yet
This year marks the inauguration of ZozoFest, taking place Friday and Saturday, Aug. 30 and 31. ZozoFest allows the public to visit Old Man Gloom up close for the first time in his temporary home at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe (555 Camino de la Familia). It also provides an alternative experience for members of the community who prefer to avoid the crowds on the night of the burning. Friday’s 3 to 11 p.m. schedule includes the unveiling of the official Zozobra poster, free musical performances in the Railyard (with hip-hop group La Junta headlining), and a screening of the family-friendly film Rise of the Guardians. Saturday’s festivities, which run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., are dedicated to the Boys and Girls Club Family Fun Fair. A variety of artwork and photographs are on display both days, including works by Zozobra creator Will Shuster that have never been exhibited before. Also available both days is a station where people can write down their woes and personally stuff them into Zozobra, who will be dressed for the occasion.
“He’ll be all decked out in his cummerbund and bow tie,” event chairman Ray Sandoval said. Visitors can also take pictures with Zozobra’s body and decapitated head “just like you do with the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.” However, some surprises will be left for the burning of Zozobra on Thursday, Sept. 5. According to Sandoval, the most important part of the entire Zozobra ritual for many people is finding out what vibrant shade his hair will be. “We made the decision that for ZozoFest, Zozobra will not have visited his hairdresser at the time, so everyone will still be surprised by the hair color on Thursday.”
All events are free of charge. Visit www.burnzozobra.com/zozofest for details and times. — L.B.
Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 5:00 am
Updated: 7:09 am, Fri Aug 30, 2013.
Ray Sandoval’s worst fear is seeing Zozobra on the front page of The Santa Fe New Mexican — the day after his scheduled burning — with a headline reading “Old Man Gloom Wins.” Such an ill omen for the town’s spiritual health almost came to pass in 2008, which Sandoval (the man who lights Zozobra’s fuse) called “our rain year.” He told the full story from construction headquarters at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe. In the background, his crew unloaded flatbed trucks piled high with garbage bags full of shredded paper: Zozobra’s stuffing and fuel for the fire.
According to Sandoval’s memory of that fateful year, a heavy downpour lasted from early afternoon up through showtime, drenching the five-story marionette and turning Fort Marcy Park into a giant mud pit. The sludge-covered masses chanting angrily for Zozobra’s demise completed the primeval spectacle. Sandoval put his flare to the puppet’s single fuse and watched anxiously as the flame flickered upward to Zozobra’s head. After a few minutes, he realized that the fire was not hot enough to evaporate the water saturating Zozobra’s long white dress and ignite the rest of his body. So, against the advice of the firefighters on standby, he decided the only option was to climb inside the dress and torch him from the inside. “It was the most surreal experience. He was moving at that time, rocking back and forth, kind of like he was coming off the pole. And I’m literally inside him, just trying to find a dry spot where the flare will actually light.” Sandoval eventually succeeded, thus avoiding negative front-page coverage the following day.
Or, use your
Friday, August 30, 2013 5:00 am.
Updated: 7:09 am.