SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Grab your beeper and party like it’s 1999 because this year’s burning of Zozobra will have a 90s theme as part of the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe’s Decades Project. Starting in 2014, they began the 10-year march to 2024, which features a decade’s theme leading up to the 100-year celebration.
Rewinding to 1964, Event Chair Ray Sandoval said it was a monumental year for a local organization. “Zozobra was given to the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe in 1964 by its creator Will Shuster not only to create this amazing cultural event every year but also to make sure we’re providing for kids who are in need in our communities,” Sandoval said.
The organization is comprised entirely of volunteers. Every year, the net proceeds from the event go into grants for nonprofits the support local children. “We’re looking towards the past by upholding this amazing tradition, and second, we’re giving back to our future by providing funds for nonprofits that support kids,” Sandoval said.
Standing at 50 feet and six inches, and weighing about 300 lbs., Sandoval said most of the shredded paper inside Old Man Gloom comes from the police and the penitentiary. Iterations of Zozobra throughout the years have seen speeding tickets, old mortgages, and love letters. People have even brought photo albums from weddings when relationships ended in divorce.
Perhaps the most meaningful they’ve received came from a woman carrying an old article of clothing. “She explained that she had a very serious form of cancer and that her doctor had told her that her hospital gown, which she was holding, would be the last article of clothing she would ever wear. She actually beat the cancer, so she wanted to put her hospital gown into Zozobra to get rid of it. That was a really touching moment,” Sandoval said.
This is the first year since 2019 that the event will be back in full swing. The previous two years had to have significantly altered celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sandoval said he’s excited for the community to have the chance to burn away their anxieties.
“You know, what Zozobra really encourages us to do is take a moment of reflection and really think about what kind of gloom am I putting out into the world? What kind of gloom am I creating for myself?” Sandoval said. “I think it’s an amazing opportunity to come together as a community to remind ourselves that there’s more that binds us together than separates us.”
The burning of Zozobra is on September 2. The event is at Fort Marcy Park, just north of Santa Fe’s plaza. The gates open at 4 p.m. and the official Zozobra show starts at 7 p.m. Ticket information can be found at https://www.burnmygloom.com/