ambience: crowd yells “burn him, burn him”, drumming, cheering, and growls
Welcome to Zozobra, a Santa Fe festival that’s as much about tradition as it is about charity. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Every Fall for over seventy-five years, the people of Santa Fe celebrate the burning of Zozobra, a fifty-foot marionette that symbolizes the community’s sorrow and gloom. Zozobra comes from a Spanish word meaning anxiety. The festival was the brainchild of Santa Fe artist Will Shuster (SHOE-ster), who was looking for an entertaining way to bring the community together.
“At first he would burn it in his backyard, and as time went on, the crowd and the interest got greater and greater and so what happened then is that he started doing more of a public spectacle with it. His idea was to get away from the very religious, very sober –get a little more excitement into Fiesta”
That’s Amos Melendez of the Kiwanis Club, which has run the event since 1964. A blend of secular observances with pre and post Christian ceremony, Zozobra kicks off Santa Fe’s annual Fiesta with a bang. Bob Zone is another Kiwanis member.
“Zozobra has its own pyrotechnics. There are things called fusies, which are little paper containers of black powder, that lead right up to the head, and there are fireworks behind the eyes, there are fireworks in the mouth, just to add to the excitement.”
Each year at the Burning of Zozobra, Santa Fe’s Kiwanis Club raises more than forty thousand dollars in scholarships, and has a great time rallying the community in the process — just as Will Shuster intended.
.Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.