A petition posted on change.org wants organizers to "return Zozobra" to "its origins"—but organizers say that's exactly what they're doing this year.
"We do not agree with some of the changes to the celebration over the years that have taken the event away from its roots and making it no longer a joyous 'looked forward to' occasion for many of the local populace," reads the petition, drafted by Santa Fean Kit Hare.
Hare also opposed Old Man Gloom's apparent new sex appeal this year.
"Furthermore, we request...the removal of a garment making him as though he is exposing a bare chest or skin or in any perceived sexual innuendo manner detracting from the traditional intent of the occasion," Hare writes.
This year marks the 90th burning of Zozobra. For the next ten years, event organizers will create Old Man Gloom as he appeared through the ten decades leading up to the 100th anniversary, says Zozobra Chairman Ray Sandoval. So this year, as part of the Kiwanis' "Decades Project," organizers will be commemorating 1920s Zozobra. Next year, Zozobra will be remade as he appeared in the 1930s—and so on.
As the photo at left shows, 1920s Zozobra, who arrived in handcuffs, preferred a loincloth—and little else. (Hey, it was the Roarin' 20s)
Sandoval says the online petition shows how much people care about the celebration. But he asks the public to first think about the reasons and history behind changes to the celebration before criticizing those changes.
"This will probably be the only time that will happen for Zozobra," he says of the wardrobe changes. "This is not a permanent change."
The Burning of Zozobra is scheduled for Friday. Gates open at 3 pm at Fort Marcy Park.