SANTA FE (KRQE) – People can expect lots of changes to Old Man Gloom this year. He will be shirtless, and in a loin cloth. Plus, the burning of Zozobra will be a week in advance of the Santa Fe Fiestas.
All of that has some locals, hot under the collar. One man started a petition, claiming the event is losing its tradition. But, the event organizers said going back to Zozobra’s roots is exactly what they’re trying to do.
As Zozobra bursts into flames, so do the worries and troubles people fill him with through the year. “Its one of the things that we really enjoyed, created a lot of good memories for us,” said Christopher Hare, a native of Santa Fe.
But in his 90th reincarnation, Old Man Gloom will be different this year.
“Instead of Zozobra being invited to a fiesta party this year, he’s actually a criminal, and so we actually are able to catch him, arrest him and people are going to see a Zozobra that is not wearing a shirt,” explained Ray Sandoval, Zozobra Event Chairman.
As part of a decades project leading up to his 100th anniversary, Zozobra is going back to his roots. When local artist Will Shuster designed him in 1924, he had legs, and a loin cloth.
“To us it doesn’t look right,” said Hare. “He’s shirtless, he has a loin cloth, which is very controversial to some of my friends right now. They don’t want to take their children to see a half-clothed man.”
Zozobra also moved to the week before Fiestas.
Hare started an online petition against the changes. “It seems to have killed the fiesta spirit for many folks that I am aware of in Santa Fe,” Hare said.
But organizers say it’s all for the best.
“We’ve worked very, very hard, this is Zozobra’s return to a Friday night, all the logistics are in place to make sure that you have a safe and a fun time,” said Sandoval.
Sandoval said an 18-month long study proved people want Zozobra on a Friday. However, Sandoval said, city resources such as police and emergency personnel would stretch too thin to support Fiestas and Zozobra at the same time.
Still, for those signing Hare’s petition, the changes are too much. “It’s so the future generations can enjoy it for what we know it as having been, from it’s tradition, from it’s roots,” said Hare.
Zozobra’s organizers told News 13 their pre-sales are way up from this time last year. Zozobra burns on August 29th. For the first two decades, Sandoval said Zozobra burned the week before Fiesta.
They’re expecting up to 40,000 people at Fort Marcy Park for the event.
Sandoval said there’s also a secret change to Zozobra’s face this year. It will be revealed at the show. Plus, Sandoval said they received a grant that will go toward one of the best fireworks shows New Mexico has ever seen.