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Zozobra Will Still Burn On A Thursday Night; Admission This Year Will Be $10

SANTA FE, N.M. — Zozobra will continue to burn on a Thursday night in 2013, despite a push from many long-time Santa Feans to move the torching of the City Different’s Old Man Gloom back to the Friday night of Fiesta weekend in September.

Also, admission to the burning will be reduced to $10 this year for adults, and children under 10 will get in for free, the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe announced this morning.

The Kiwanis Club, which burns the giant puppet that was created by artist Will Shuster and donates the proceeds to charity, was slammed with criticism for the 2012 burning, which took a couple of extra hours when high winds caused safety problems. Many also complained about the price of admission for the iconic community event – $20 for most and $10 for small children at the gate last September, although cheaper tickets were available in advance.

There was also discord over the banning of baby strollers from the event, rap music that played during the delay instead of more traditional mariachis and the artistic vision for the burning of longtime Zozobra producer Ray Valdez, as the burning ceremony became more elaborate and less traditional in recent years.

An on-line petition demanding changes was signed by hundreds. Valdez stepped down as Zozobra producer amid the uproar.

The burning was moved from Friday to Thursday night in the mid-1990s, spurred by a fatal shooting on the Plaza that took place after the rowdy  Zozobra crowd shifted to downtown for music, food and revelry. Now, there are no post-Zozobra activities on the Plaza after the Thursday night torching. Police officials have been concerned about crowd control if Zozobra’s execution were to be moved back to Friday.

Here is the Kiwanis Club’s news release that was issued this morning:

The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe announced today that the 2013 Burning of Will Shuster’s Zozobra will take place on Thursday, September 5, 2013.

In addition, the club lowered the admission price to $10 for all, with the exception of children 10 and under who can attend free of charge.

Keeping the event on Thursday night and lowering ticket prices are a direct result of the outstanding cooperation provided by the City of Santa Fe.

“I want to personally thank the Mayor, the Santa Fe Fire Department, the Police Department, the City Manager, the Parks Division and Special Events,” said Raymond Sandoval, Zozobra Chairman. “Their professionalism and dedication to the citizens of Santa Fe was demonstrated at every level of city government.”

The City worked closely with the Kiwanis Club on new emergency exit procedures, allowing the Club to manage a larger crowd, lower the ticket price and keep the burning on Thursday.

We remain honored and privileged to host the community’s largest event, one that funds all the good work the Kiwanis Club is able to do,” said Lynette Kennard, Club President.

Proceeds from the burning of Zozobra are returned to the community in the form of grants or scholarships. Since Kiwanis took over the burning of Zozobra in 1963, the club has donated more than $500,000 in college scholarships to more than 175 students and, in a typical year, provides $40,000 in other funding as well to 25 or more local non-profit organizations serving children.

“We all want Zozobra to be sustainable and, with the City’s and the Fiesta Council’s help, we are trying another Thursday burn,” Sandoval said. “After this year’s event, we will meet immediately with our partners to assess the effectiveness of the changes made and see if Thursday remains workable.”