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Burning of Zozobra to be TV event this year


Organizers said Thursday that due to coronavirus, the burning of Zozobra, which takes place annually in September in Santa Fe, will not be a public event. Instead it will be broadcast on KOAT-TV. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE, N.M. — As always, Zozobra will burn this year. But, due to the coronavirus outbreak, you’ll have to watch it on TV.

Ray Sandoval, chairman of the Zozobra event that is staged by the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe each year at Santa Fe’s Fort Marcy Park, on Thursday announced a partnership with KOAT-TV to broadcast the event scheduled for Sept. 4.

He confirmed that it means the Kiwanis Club, which uses the event as a fundraiser, the proceeds of which are distributed to youth organizations in the community, will not be a public event this year and they will not be selling tickets.

“We are going to hold up to our first promise to Will Shuster, our city and our state by burning Zozobra from our reserves and forgo any ticket sales,” he said.

Zozobra, also known as “Old Man Gloom,” was created by artist Will Shuster in 1924. The idea behind his burning was to give Santa Feans a chance to release all the negativity from the previous year by sending their woes up in flames.

These days, participants write down their troubles on pieces of paper, which are then stuffed inside the 50-foot marionette effigy and set ablaze.

The event has grown from a gathering of Shuster’s artist friend in his backyard to where in recent years it has attracted crowds of about 60,000 people at Fort Marcy Park.

Sandoval said the organization is looking into alternative ways to fund raise, “so we can continue to do the good things that we do in the community.”

According to a news release, Zozobra organizers are have come up with some new ideas for this year. The “Decades Project,” a themed presentation recognizing each decade since its inception leading up to the 100th anniversary is being suspended. This year’s theme will be what has brought gloom to everyone.

“There’s enough gloom this year that the coronavirus needs its own place,” he said. “If there was ever a year to burn away gloom, this is it.”

As usual, there will be some new twists.

Torchbearers will be dressed as nurses and first responders to honor their role in combatting the coronavirus outbreak. Organizers are also working with restaurants to create Zozobra meals that people can order and enjoy at home with their family.

He said Zozobra organizers were also working with the state Department of Tourism to bring the event to other markets.

Sandoval said he was thankful for the partnership with KOAT-TV because it allows everyone with a television set to view the event, as opposed to only those with internet access.

“It was really ctritical that we were able to do this. Our traditions are sacred and I think there are times when traditions mean even more,” he said. “This allows us to be true to our traditiona and allows it to be inclusive of everybody.”

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