Zozobra already has 20k virtual gloom submissions ahead of event

New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – It is a New Mexico tradition nearly a century old; the Burning of Zozobra. However, this year, the event that draws more than 60,000 people is all online.

People across New Mexico said they have had their fair share of gloom this year. “If I could leave the entire year in the past, I would be cool with that,” Albuquerque resident David Collette said.

Usually, people would flock to the annual burning of Zozobra in Santa Fe to cast their worries onto Old Man Gloom, the 50-foot marionette. People stuff him with things that go wrong in life like divorce papers and other personal notes. “Leaving behind all the things I have done wrong or mistakes or regrets,” Collette said.

While COVID-19 has shut down large events like Zozobra, organizers said the show must still go on. “There was never a question in our minds whether or not 2020 needed a Zozobra,” event chair Raymond Sandoval said. “If there was ever a year for Zozobra, this is it.”

They are doing it virtually this year. You can submit your gloom online, uploading photos and documents. Then, organizers will print them out and stuff them in Old Man Gloom. The burn will be live-streamed for people to watch from home.

Sandoval said they have already received 20,000 submissions from all over the country, many COVID-related. “This is his year,” Sandoval said. “He has caused a lot of gloom and doom. He canceled a lot of plans.”

People said while this year’s event may look different, it is important to carry the tradition on. “No matter how we can do it,” Collette said. “Whatever it takes to get back to something that is a little closer to the way it used to be.”

All the money from the event goes to nonprofits that benefit children. So far, they have raised $30,000 this year. The deadline for gloom submissions is September 4.

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