What is The Decades Project?

In 1964, the creator of Zozobra, Santa Fe artist Will Shuster, granted the exclusive rights to the Burning of Zozobra to the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe. As keepers of the flame (pun intended), the Kiwanis have made an enduring commitment to this iconic tradition.

With 2024’s 100th anniversary approaching, the Club recognized that this momentous occasion needed to be at the forefront of planning. In 2014, with ten years to go until 2024, Event Chair Ray Sandoval came up with the idea of honoring the legacy of this historic Santa Fe event by journeying through each successive decade since Zozobra’s first appearance in 1924. And with that in mind, the Decades Project was born.

 Zozobra is turning 100 in 2024 and we need YOU to help make that anniversary super-special by sharing memories and photos of you or your family’s own Zozobra history for a 100th-anniversary documentary film!

Tell your Zozobra story by writing down your memories below! Even if you don’t have pictures or videos, we want to hear from you!

Have you been coming to Zozobra for as long as you can remember? Perhaps you’ve helped us build, stuff or move Zozobra. Have you been a gloomie or torchbearer or has your group performed onstage? Maybe you celebrated your honeymoon at Zozobra by burning your gloom together. Or did you add something very special to burn inside Zozobra?

Whoever and wherever you are and however you first met Santa Fe, New Mexico’s most unforgettable icon, this is your chance to share the love with your own Zozobra story and memorabilia!

Whether you’re 8 or 80, we want to hear from you. Tell us who you are and share your Zozobra memories by filling out the form below.

  • Please upload up to three of your favorite Zozobra images.

  • Accepted file types: jpg, jpeg, png, gif.
  • Accepted file types: jpg, jpeg, png, gif.
  • Accepted file types: jpg, jpeg, png, gif.

Put simply, the Decades Project is focused on creating a comprehensive and cohesive design that blends the style and substance of each era in Zozobra’s life and demise. The Club’s extensive archives allow organizers to delve deeply into Zozobra’s look throughout his 90+ years, matching the overall design of all the elements –– from his face and attire to the artifacts and music –– with the history and events of each era. Each year of the Decades Project has its own set of collectible souvenirs to mark the occasion. And most important of all, the Project annually gives the Kiwanis a valuable teaching moment to meaningfully honor their mission of helping children learn about their history.

In 2014, Year One of the Decades Project, Zozobra went way back to the Roaring 1920s, with a handlebar mustache and a maroon waistband, his hands tied behind his back to demonstrate his outlaw status. Attendees got right into the spirit, and black mustachios reigned supreme on the field and in the many photographs that marked the event.

Year Two, 2015, saw Old Man Gloom deeply invested in the Depression Era. Designed in grayscale to mirror the struggles of the era, he was bald and fat around the middle, thanks to the extreme gloom he spread throughout the 1930s. He never quit plying his evil machinations, even trying –– unsuccessfully –– to rain out the event.

2016, Year Three, brought Zozobra into the 1940s WW2 era, rich in history and cultural significance for Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the world at large.

In recognition of the profound and far-reaching consequences of that era, the Kiwanis partnered with the Santa Fe Jewish Center/Chabad by adding a special Candlelight Holocaust Memorial, which took place at Fort Marcy Park on Thursday, September 1, 2016. September 1st was the 77th anniversary of the start of WWII and the 75th anniversary of the date when the Jewish population of Germany was ordered to wear a yellow Star of David, and gays, gypsies and outsiders were similarly marked and publicly shamed.

Year Four of the Decades Project, 2017, landed Zozobra squarely into the Mad Men 1950s! On Friday, September 1, 2017, the old Daddy-O burned it up at Fort Marcy Park in a hand-crafted “Father Knows Worst” cardigan!

2018, Year Five of the Decades Project, saw Zozobra immersed in a Summer of Love 1960s feel-good vibe, but being the city’s gloomiest malcontent, he made sure he was anything but lovable! After the Fire Spirit vanquished Zozobra to the backdrop of an unforgettably epic lightning storm, the gloom-free crowd of 62,400 witnessed an amazing fireworks display!

In 2019, Year Six of the Decades Project, Zozobra visited the 1970s, with so much to share. The disco era, the heart of the counterculture, the Brady Bunch and of course, the first Star Wars movie –– who better than Zozobra for welcoming the Dark Side! Anyone who danced their heart out to the YMCA song will want to return again to see Zozobra burn!

In 2020, the Decades Project was on hiatus due to the unlikely conjunction of Zozobra and the coronavirus, an unprecedented moment that required its own recognition. And what an acknowledgment that was! Zozobra’s head was crowned with red triangles, orange ping-pong balls and silvery shreds so that his hair represented COVID-19, and his buttons were marked 2020 for the unhappy year that he savored. And how about those murder hornet cufflinks? Zozobra 2020 was one for the record books!

In 2021, the Zozobra Decades Project Year Seven celebrated the go-go 1980s era and Zozobra’s annual Santa Fe appearance was summer’s hottest front-and-center moment with an 80s costume contest and a live DJ spinning the best of the 80s “ZTV” music videos on three giant screens. Talk about a great dance party!

Zozobra 2022 was dressed in hella-good 90s style, with stylish maroon suspenders and his own Z belt buckle. That wallet chain made sure that no one tried to mess with him. And what about those tattoos?!?!? Just awesome!!

The Next Burning of Zozobra takes place on the Friday before Labor Day, Friday, September 01, 2023, in Santa Fe, NM, and you’re invited to watch the Zozobra Decades Project bring the millennium era of the sweet 2000s and 2010s to life on the way to Zozobra Centennial Celebration in 2024!

Our commitment to our traditions is unwavering!

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