This year for the 89th Zozobra festival, Sarah and I arrived an hour or so before sunset to Fort Marcy Park near old downtown Santa Fe. The park was crowded, but there was still some room. We got our first glimpse of Zozobra, AKA Old Man Gloom.
|Why yes, that is a 50 foot tall clown marionette. That's not creepy at all!|
|Closer, still not creepy.|
|He's cute, but considering what happens...still creepy.|
|Don Diego de Vargas and his court introduce themselves and give shout outs...just like the first time.|
We sat and listened to the bands singing Spanish music and waited for the sun to go down. There was quite a crowd.
|Yes, there were beach balls. Lots of beach balls.|
As the sun went down, lights reflected on Zozobra and the crowd grew restless. A contest winner took the stage to start the chant, "Burn him!" As one of the festival goers had said earlier when she heard it was our first, "It gets a little weird."
First, the children got into the act. They are dressed as little glooms that lead Zozobra to a party he is told is in his honor.
|Aren't they cute? Just watch them lead that old man to his doom!|
The lights dropped out and Zozobra was bathed in an eerie green light. This was accompanied by a forward rush worthy of any good rock concert. That's why the picture is so blurry.
|That's my story and I'm sticking to it.|
Then the torch bearers arrive on the scene while the little glooms exit.
Then the fireworks start. While the fireworks are going off, the fire dancer continues to dance more and more frantically. Drums start pounding over the PA system.
I couldn't get the video to embed, again, sorry.
The burning didn't take long, just a few minutes. He continued to writhe and scream while the crowd cheered and chanted. When he finally collapsed and fell the the ground, the fireworks finale started. Shortly after, the lights came up and everyone started heading to the gates. It was a wild and weird experience that was more intense and primal than I expected.
If you find yourself in the area in early September, you should pay a visit and watch the burning of Zozobra. It is a unique and fascinating cultural event.