By NATALIE STOREY | The New Mexican
September 7, 2006
A little after 9 a.m. today, Ray Valdez will take a $3,000, hand-
stitched wedding dress from a box and stuff it in Zozobra in plenty
of time for tonight's burning of the 49-foot marionette.
The dress was sent to him via FedEx from a woman in New Orleans who
went through a terrible divorce but heard about Zozobra. She also
sent Valdez, who organizes the annual event for the Santa Fe Kiwanis
Club, a bound wedding album full of pictures of herself and her
former husband. It is her hope that once the items are reduced to
ashes, she will feel unburdened by her sorrow.
Along with the wedding dress, other people's handwritten notes of
sorrow, bills, divorce papers, mortgages, blueprints and anything
else that represents their sadness will be burned as Zozobra meets
his death at the stake at Fort Marcy Park tonight. The burning will
commence at dusk.
Zozobra, or Old Man Gloom, is a hideous, toothless bogeyman with no
guts or legs. He is burned each year to alleviate the sorrow of the
people of Santa Fe. His burning, held every year in September since
1924, marks the beginning of Santa Fe Fiesta.
It is said that Zozobra scares the children of Santa Fe and makes
dogs howl at the moon. Last year, 23,000 watched him go up in flames.
Gates at Fort Marcy Park open at 2 p.m. The city of Santa Fe is
offering shuttle service to the park. Shuttle service from Santa Fe
Place begins at 3:20 p.m. A round-trip pass is $2. A free shuttle
from DeVargas Mall will depart at 6 p.m. Fort Marcy Complex will be
closed to visitors today. After 6 p.m., all streets north of Paseo de
Peralta will be closed to through traffic.
Woody, Retired in Albuquerque