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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hansen

Torch Your Troubles Away

Fiestas de Santa Fe has been held since 1712 to celebrate the Spanish reconquest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1692 by Don Diego de Vargas from the Pueblo tribes who had occupied the city since the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

For the past 96 years, a high point of the Fiesta has been the torching of a 50-foot puppet known as Zozobra aka “Old Man Gloom.” The burning of Zozobra dates from 1924, when artist William Howard Shuster, Jr. burned the first Zozobra in his backyard at a party for his friends and fellow artists. "Zozobra" is a Spanish word for anxiety, worry, or sinking.

These days, the event is sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club and delights crowds of up to 60,000 every year in Santa Fe’s Fort Marcy Park. The event is cathartic because the giant Zozobra goblin is stuffed with slips of paper on which fiesta attendees have written their woes and worries, along with assorted legal papers, divorce decrees, mortgage pay-offs, parking tickets and the like.

Submit Your Own Worries for Burning

Now you too can have your personal worries incinerated along with Zozobra for one dollar. Enter your anxieties, problems, or mental burdens on the “Burn My Gloom” submission page at

Your worries will be printed out on paper, stuffed into Zozo’s effigy, and torched at 9:30 p.m. MDT on September 3, 2021.

You may also upload copies of personal documents you wish to have committed to the flames, such as report cards, dear John/Joan letters, divorce papers, etc.

For an additional $1, you can specify where on Zozobra’s body you wish to have your worries stuffed. Offer is limited to his head, hair, mouth, right hand, left hand, belly, chest, and “where his heart should be.”


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