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The City Of Santa Fe Celebrates The 90th Anniversary Of Zozobra

(Photo courtesy of City of Santa Fe Emergency Management)
In honor of the event's 90th anniversary, Zozobra organizers have built Old Man Gloom with legs rather than a skirt.

The annual burning of Zozobra will be held in northern New Mexico tonight. This is the 90th straight year the 50 foot marionette, also known as Old Man Gloom, will be set on fire in Santa Fe.

The tradition is symbolic of the burning away of the world’s glooms. It began in 1924 when Santa Fe poet Will Schuster and a few of his friends decided to write their worries down on a piece of paper and then burn them. It’s safe to say the idea stuck.

Zozobra himself is a menacing figure. He’s stark white, with red eyes and bright green hair. In years past he’s been known to let out an eerie groan after being set on fire.

His look has been slightly updated for his 90th anniversary. Old Man Gloom is usually dressed in a skirt, but this year he’s got a pair of legs, which organizer Jodi McGinnis said was no easy feat to pull off.  

"It takes quite a long time to build," said McGinnis. "He’s made of wood, wire, poultry netting, muslin, nails, and screws.  So we really had to work on redesigning him without a skirt so now he has legs."

Miginnis says the event has grown since its humble beginnings. It now attracts about 30,000 people to the city center, with worries or glooms coming in from all 50 states. 




Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.