Join Thousands As We Gather (Virtually) To Actually Burn Zozobra and Our 2020 Gloom

2020 has been a tough year, an anxious year. Isn’t it time to let go of that gloom? You can do just that! Just submit your gloom to burn with Zozobra, Santa Fe, New Mexico’s original burning man! A 50-foot tall functioning marionette, filled with the gloom of this difficult year, Zozobra will battle with the Fire Spirit who materializes from the collective goodwill of all who yearn for a better world.

For 96 years, the City of Santa Fe has built and filled Zozobra with thousands of glooms ­­–– bad habits, hurt feelings, love letters, divorce papers, photos, speeding tickets –– all placed on paper to go up in smoke when this New Mexico icon goes down in flaming fury.

Relationship gone south? Boss too bossy? Had it up to here with the virus? What are you ready to let go of so you can start anew? You can upload photos or documents, choose the place inside Zozobra to put your gloom, and you can even give the gift of gloom-riddance to someone else.

The Fire Dancer torches Zozobra! (Photo courtesy of The Burning of Will Shuster’s Zozobra)

Just by submitting your glooms, you are already doing a good deed! The Santa Fe Kiwanis, keepers of Zozobra’s flame, will donate the net proceeds of the burning to nonprofits that make a better life for children. There’s a win-win for feeling less gloomy!

Every gloom will be printed out on paper and stuffed inside Zozobra to free you from your gloom and anxieties on Friday, September 4, 2020.  Tune in to watch the live stream at so you can experience the excitement and feel the release!


What’s different this year? Everything…everywhere…for everyone. That’s as true for Santa Fe, NM, as it is for everyplace in the world. But the City Different will share with anyone anywhere its historic antidote for casting off the feelings of gloom, doom and despair of the pandemic year. 

Will Shuster (left) seen here with his artist friends and the head of Zozobra. (Photo courtesy of The Burning of Will Shuster’s Zozobra)

In 1924, Santa Fe artist Will Shuster first came up with a unique solution for dispelling the gloomy feelings of his artist pals––the original burning man, Zozobra. An eerie, 50-foot tall marionette embodies all the gloom that builds up annually from humankind’s ill will, bad habits and misdeeds. For 96 years, his dark specter that wills the world to suffer has battled annually with an immortal foe, the Fire Spirit, who materializes from the collective goodwill and united spirit of all who yearn for a better world. In 1964, Will Shuster passed the reins of this one-of-a-kind pageant to the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe, the keepers of Zozobra’s flame, and this year’s event will be an unforgettable online experience for all who need release from worries and woes.

In a typical year, over 60,000 people gather from all 50 states and 21 countries to be liberated from their gloom and negativity by placing written notes and documents into Zozobra to go up in smoke in a spellbinding, transformative spectacle. For locals, the Burning of Zozobra is Santa Fe’s New Year — a time when personal faults and failings are symbolically burned away and joy and unity offer a chance to begin anew.

This iconic tradition has endured through war, depression, drought and decades of social and cultural upheaval. Zozobra was born shortly after the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, and the synchronicity of the current pandemic offers all the more reason to enact this cherished community ritual.

Zozobra seen here in the 1940’s. (Photo courtesy of The Burniing of Will Shuster’s Zozobra)

Santa Fe welcomes the world into our virtual backyard as we free ourselves of 2020’s gloom, fear and anxiety and unite together in global community to renew the human spirit of hope and goodwill and pass through to a brighter time.