Burning of Zozobra to be hybrid event amid pandemic

Coronavirus New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The ritual burning of a giant, ghostly marionette in Santa Fe will be a hybrid event this year. Organizers of the Zozobra burning are planning to limit in-person attendance to 10,000 while also broadcasting the event on television and online, they announced Thursday.

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The nighttime spectacle that’s been transformed by modern pyrotechnics is in its 97th year. A team of a dozen puppeteers heaves on cords to flex the groaning marionette’s arms, head and jaw.

Will Shuster, a painter from Philadelphia who migrated to the Southwest, created Zozobra, a name derived from a Spanish word for “anguish.” Donations from energy companies ensured the event could move forward on Sept. 3. It typically happens around Santa Fe’s weeklong community fiestas that include historic and religious processions.

Anyone attending in person must prove they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or tested negative within 72 hours of the event. Face masks will be required for anyone who is not vaccinated.

The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe uses the event to raise money for youth charities. Organizers said they’ll tweak the event as needed to comply with federal and state public health orders.

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