SANTA FE, N.M. — Mayor David Coss said at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting that councilors have asked City Manager Robert Romero to set up a meeting with the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe to discuss complaints about this year’s burning of Zozobra by the Kiwanians.
Coss joined in the growing public chorus about the burning, saying there needs to be “less pageantry, more family.”
Several councilors also sounded off on the Zozobra controversy, emphasizing that the city isn’t in charge of the annual demise of Old Man Gloom and that neither is the Fiesta Council. There was also some support for moving the burning back to the Friday night of Fiesta weekend to make it easier for families with schoolchildren to attend.
The Zozobra ritual was moved from Friday night to Thursday after a post-Zozobra fatal shooting on the crowded Plaza in 1997. Since then, there have been no Plaza events after Zozobra, in the interest of crowd control.
Kiwanis leaders this week promised to make changes after complaints this year about an increase to $20 for day-of-show tickets, the length of the pre-burning ritual that includes dancing and fireworks, a drift away from traditional music and dance in the show, a ban on baby strollers at the event and an impression among some Santa Feans that Zozobra has become more geared toward tourists and out-of-towners than locals.
The situation was aggravated at last Thurday’s burning by high winds that delayed the burning for more than an hour, with Zozobra not going up in flames until after 10:30 p.m.
Ray Valdez, the Zozobra producer and incoming Kiwanis president, says the club is neutral on which night should be used for the burning and will leave that issue up to the city.
The Kiwanis Club has been in charge of the traditional burning of the giant puppet, which was started by artist Will Shuster in 1924, since the 1960s and uses the event to raise money for its youth and children’s charities.