SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The 98th burning of Zozobra is a special event because it’s the first year the event is back in full swing after two years of modified celebrations due to COVID. This year’s theme is celebrating the 90s with performances of famous 90s hits and 90s trivia all leading up to the main event.

Danielle Ortiz is 47 years old and says she’s been attending the burning of Zozobra since she was a child. She and her parents would park on a nearby hill with their dinner and watch the event from their vehicle. It’s a bittersweet time for Ortiz because her father passed away in November. “I’m keeping the tradition alive,” Ortiz said. “I’m just here to have a good time and see some friends.”

Ariel and Nathaniel Montez, who are in 5th and 3rd grade, respectively, came with their grandmother this year. “I’m really excited for today because we’ve always been watching the Zozobra burning at home, and we’ve been here only once. This is our second time,” Ariel said.

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Families like Nikky Martinez’s wanted to share with their children the event, the food, the music, and experience. “I’m excited to share with her this New Mexican tradition,” Martinez said.

Brooklyn Mata learned about Zozobra in her 1st-grade class. “Zozobra is 50 feet tall, and his nickname is Old Man Gloom, and he’s 98 years old,” Mata said. “I’m excited to see Zozobra burn down.”

Alysa Garcia said she’s a 90’s herself and was excited to introduce her children to the event she’s been coming to since she was a kid. “I just wanted to keep the tradition alive this year with my kids because it’ll be their first time,” Garcia said.

It’s extra special for Garcia because both her children participated in stuffing Zozobra before the event. “They know the story about the gloom, and I was explaining to them just starting out fresh and getting rid of that gloom and burning it away,” Garcia said. “I explained to them that’s the start of fiestas.”

The event officially begins at 7 p.m. at Fort Marcy Park in Santa Fe.