SANTA FE, N.M. — Ray Valdez, who has overseen the burning of Old Man Gloom for the past 22 years, has stepped down from his position after a host of complaints burst from the ashes of this month’s event.
The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe, which puts on the annual event as its major fundraiser, accepted his resignation in a board meeting on Saturday, according to Ray Sandoval, who will take over Valdez’s duties. The position is not paid.
A Rio Rancho attorney who has been part of the Zozobra burning since childhood – he has the title of pyrotechnician for the event – Sandoval said Tuesday he will move to Santa Fe soon, where he plans to meet with city officials and members of the community, who have raised concerns about the traditional burning of Zozobra.
The new same-day ticket price of $20 drew complaints this year, as well as the fact that strollers were not allowed on the grounds. There also are critics who say the pre-burning ritual of dance and fireworks has become too long and elaborate and too much non-traditional music is used.