Zozobra burns, ’90s-style

With sparklers flying from his mouth and flames quickly enveloping his boy band garb, Zozobra burned to the ground for the 98th time.

Not even his frosted tips survived.

In a Friday night full of 1990s music, mariachi bands and beach balls, Old Man Gloom’s annual demise appeared to draw a record crowd to Fort Marcy Ballpark.

Event chairman Ray Sandoval said early estimates show about 65,000 people came to the first full-fledged Burning of Will Shuster’s Zozobra after two years of limitations imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The previous attendance record was set in 2019, with a crowd of 63,000 people, Sandoval said.

The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe, which presents the show each year, is expected to provide an accurate count of attendees Saturday based on drone footage.

“I think the event was amazing,” Sandoval said after the show. “Couldn’t ask for better weather. People looked like they were enjoying themselves.”

The Kiwanis Club hosted hours of live entertainment for the tens of thousands of locals and out-of-towners who gathered for the ’90s-themed celebration — and Zozobra was ready for it. The doomed marionette donned suspenders, a stylized belt, short sleeves, arm tattoos and bleach-blond hair — fit to perform with Justin Timberlake and the ’90s boy band NSYNC.

Since 2014, the Kiwanis Club has been counting down the decades until Zozobra’s 100th birthday. This year, the celebration took revelers back to a ’90s dance party.

Gray clouds initially hovered above th