Every year, The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe says goodbye to summer with the Burning of Zozobra, a 50-foot high marionette signifying the darkness and despair created within the City Different, due to all the nefarious and woeful deeds done throughout the year. For almost a century, this unique cultural event has drawn families and friends from near and far, to watch as evil is vanquished for another year during this one-of-a-kind Labor Day pageant. The 99th Burning of Will Shuster’s Zozobra takes place at Fort Marcy Park, Friday, September 1, 2023, from 4 – 9 p.m.
A (Very) Brief History of Zozobra
Made of wood, wire, and cotton cloth and stuffed with hundreds of bags of shredded paper, Zozobra is a dark and eerie character, part ghost, part monster, and full enemy of all that is good. The creation of Will Shuster, one of Los Cinco Pintores, a group of artists who set up shop in Santa Fe in the 1920s, it began as a 6-foot effigy burned in his backyard.
Over the years, it grew in both size and significance, until Will handed over all rights to the Kiwanis Club in 1964. It now welcomes visitors from around the globe to participate in a community service event that benefits children through grants and educational activities.
According to official lore, the doom-and-gloom specter is recreated annually to restore balance to the city and its residents. In order to lure Zozobra out of hiding, the city leaders invite him to a party he believes is being held in his honor. With his enormous ego urging him on, Zozobra accepts the invitation, recognizing it as his best opportunity to invade the heart of town, destroy all happiness and rob the city of its most precious possession: hope.
Eager to embark upon his sinister plans, the account continues, Zozobra becomes disgruntled as he’s kept waiting, so he casts a spell over the children of Santa Fe, turning them into his minions, the Gloomies. When Zozobra realizes he’s been duped, he lets loose the Gloomies to wreak havoc on the city, but before they can begin, a group of brave townsfolk arrive bearing torches, and call forth the Fire Spirit to vanquish him. The Gloomies are released from their trance, the crowd dances joyfully as Zozobra collapses into a smoking pile of embers, and all is well in the world again for another year.
Pre-show Fun to Get You Ready For Zozobra
You can get your first look at this year’s Zozobra, in all his gloomy glory, on Friday, August 25, from 5 – 8 p.m., at Santa Fe Place Mall. While there, wear your best early 2000s styles and get into the millennial mood with the hottest tunes from the 2000s and 2010s, spun by DJ Sin. But that’s not all. You can also take selfies with Zozobra photobombing you over your shoulder, stuff your glooms inside Zozobra to make your worries go up in smoke when he gets torched, and get first dibs on collectible Zozobra art.
The effigy will be on display throughout the weekend, on Saturday, August 26, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday, August 27, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. On Saturday, check out the Zozobra Art Exhibit, and make your own art at the free craft tables. You can also meet 2023 Zozobra poster artist Nathan Chavez and have him sign your poster. There will also be plenty of Zozobra swag for sale! Sunday is the last day for the exhibit, and also your last chance to score swag until Zozobra Day at Fort Marcy Park.
The party and ensuing mayhem starts at 4 p.m., Friday, September 1, with the burning of Zozobra at 7 p.m., followed by fun and entertainment until lights out at 9 p.m. For more information, visit the website, or call 855-969-6272.
To get the full story about Zozobra and how it came to be, visit the website here.This article was posted by Olivia