Thousands miss Zozobra due to weather and security check delays

New Mexico News

A nearly 100-year-old Santa Fe tradition of burning Old Man Gloom continued Friday night. But it didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. People say they were turned away with paid tickets in hand.

Event organizers admit the weather and a new policy created major issues at the popular event. Now, they just want to make it right.

More than 60,000 people gathered at Fort Marcy Park for the event. 

“Releasing our worries, having renewed energy and life and hope,” says one visitor.

Outside the park gates, 2,000  people were not let in to see Zozobra go up in flames.

Feliz Montoya filmed the experience. 

“We could hear everything going on and we were telling the police ‘What’s going on? Why won’t you guys let us in?'” says Montoya.

Event organizer Raymond Sandoval blames a few things. The first being backpacks allowed at the event this year, choking up security checkpoints.

“All of the general admission lines, all 20, became backpack [lines] and as we were thoroughly searching the backpacks, we created a domino effect where we basically compounded it,” Sandoval says.

Then the threat of high winds and lightning bumped up the start time by half an hour and compressed the 40-minute show into just 20. 

“The people that [were] at the gates that had now been waiting over an hour trying to get in saw that the show was starting and saw that it was starting early and so they started pushing through the gates,” Sandoval says. 

Sandoval says once the pushing started, a decision was made. 

“We made the decision as a security standpoint we couldn’t allow anyone in because we couldn’t check the backpacks at that point,” Sandoval says. 

Those on the outside say they were not given an explanation.

“They had us wait there with the gate closed,” Montoya says. 

Organizers recognize many were left feeling burned.

“Its all on us we take full responsibility,” Sandoval says. 

That is why they say they will be issuing refunds and giving complimentary tickets to next year’s Zozobra.

They are also working with hotels to get discounts for any out-of-town guests.

Zozobra organizers say they will meet Sunday to further discuss how to make things right.

Click here for information on Zozobra refunds.

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