Time to burn that gloom away

September 1, 2018

Oh, Zozobra! It is the once-a-year pagan celebration involving almost 50 feet of marionette, flames, fireworks, all the gloom of Santa Fe and a gathering of tens of thousands.

It’s here, and not a moment too soon. We all have anxieties and worries that need to vanish in puffs of smoke. Whether we are alleviating concern for family matters, a personal hardship or illness, even collective fear about the state of the nation, Zozobra’s annual burning takes care of it all — for a few hours, at least.

Welcome to the 94th annual burning of Will Shuster’s Zozobra, with the countdown to 100 years continuing — this year, with a 1960s vibe. Think hippies, tie-dye, the psychedelic nature of those crazy years. Tonight’s Zozobra event at Fort Marcy park is a perfect marriage of decade and place, in a town that saw an influx of hippies back in the day.

As always, the volunteers of the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe deserve the community’s thanks for the hours of work that go in to prepare for Zozobra. This is a true community event, with men, women and children working on building Zozobra, ZozoFest the weekend before, the actual burning and then, in handing out grants to various charitable causes that help children. These are great community volunteers.

Importantly, Kiwanis Club members have managed to figure out how to keep ticket costs low, with general admission still at $10 for adults and free for children. To do that, there’s a bit of glitz added to the show, with fancy tickets — better seats and views —ranging from $60 to $250. Because of the high rollers, the costs stay low for the rest of us.

What’s more, the expensive tickets ensure the Kiwanis Club raises enough money to pay costs of staging as well as hand out grants to community groups.

Zozobra is not just fun. The celebration does a lot of good in our community. In 2017, $67,000 in grants went to such groups as Cooking with Kids, Girls on the Run, Partners in Education, Adaptive Sports of New Mexico, St. Elizabeth Shelter and others.

We like, too, that Kiwanis Club leaders don’t mind changing things up every year. Zozobra-goers once again can bring backpacks this year — they’ll be searched, but that means folks who want to carry in picnic suppers are able to do so. For convenience, though, there are food booths on site as well.

Considering the gates open midafternoon and Zozobra isn’t likely to light up until 9:30 p.m. or so, people likely will be hungry.

Entry to the park is from Bishops Lodge Road; remember, parking will be limited downtown, so consider taking a shuttle from the South Capitol Rail Runner station or riding a city bus. There’s more fun to be had without parking hassles, to be sure. The key is to get downtown early and then enjoy yourself.

Zozobra remains a fun, festive tradition — a safe way to release anxiety while enjoying the last days of summer with friends and family.

We can’t wait to see our colorful, 1960s-style Zozobra — and, as the flames die down, give a welcome to the 2018 Fiesta de Santa Fe when the Royal Court, Don Diego de Vargas and the cuadrilla traipse on by. Oh, Zozobra, indeed.

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