Santa Fe Unlimited: Santa Fe Fiesta | Fiesta de Santa Fe
This colorful vintage postcard depicts the Historical/Hysterical Parade on the streets of downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. As part of the annual Fiesta de Santa Fe (Santa Fe Fiesta) in early September, the event takes place at the site of the historic Santa Fe Plaza.Fiesta de Santa Fe | Santa Fe Fiesta

The annual three-day Santa Fe Fiesta celebration in early September is a time for religious ceremony, thanksgiving and good will, as well as dance and just pure fun.

In 1680, because of cruel treatment they had received at the hands of the Spaniards, the area’s Pueblo Indians revolted, forcing them out of Santa Fe. Don Diego de Vargas entered the city 12 years later, hoping to reconquer the area without bloodshed. He prayed to La Conquistadora (a small wooden icon of the Madonna) for help in this peaceful conquest, and vowed that if he was successful, the city would honor her every year.

In 1712, Lt. Governor Captain General Juan Paez Hurtado officially declared the annual Fiesta to celebrate de Varga’s re-conquest. The holiday is both religious and historical, and Santa Feans have found some unique ways to observe this special weekend each year.

Fiesta Events
Throughout the first week of September there are pre-Fiesta activities, such as arts and crafts shows, competitive runs and walks through town, and mariachi concerts. The Fiesta Melodrama is also held at the community theater.

Fiesta officially begins on Friday morning, with the Pregon de la Fiesta and the de Vargas Mass. Opening ceremonies and entertainment then follow on the Plaza, as well as the Entrada de Don Diego de Vargas.

In preparation for Fiesta, people are selected to portray Don Diego de Vargas, La Reina (the Queen) and their court members. This is a part of the reenact ion ceremony where de Vargas retakes Santa Fe in a procession to the Plaza bandstand.

Zozobra (the burning of Old Man Gloom) is a part of the annual Fiesta de Santa Fe (Santa Fe Fiesta). Held on the opening Friday night of Fiesta, it has been an ever-popular event attracting both locals and tourists since its debut in 1926.Zozobra
Friday evening, at dusk, the popular Zozobra event takes place at Fort Marcy Park. This is the annual ceremony of burning Old Man Gloom (pictured right). Zozobra, the inspiration of artist Will Shuster, was introduced as part of the Fiesta events in 1926.

Old Man Gloom first appeared as a six-foot puppet, but the Zozobra figure has since grown to be over 40 feet tall. Made of muslin and stuffed with shredded paper, Zozobra is an eerie, groaning, flailing character, who looks to be part ghost and part monster.

Amid fireworks and the ceremonial dances of ghosts and fire, Zozobra is set afire by torches. As Old Man Gloom burns, it is said that with him go the feelings of gloom and doom from the past year. The sound of the groaning Zozobra can be heard for miles around.

Traditional Parades and Parties
Following the burning of Zozobra, the party then moves to the streets of the Plaza area for the Baile de la Gente. Traditional music is played on the Plaza bandstand and revelers dance the night away.

Saturday brings La Merienda de la Fiesta, an historical fashion show, organized by La Sociedad Folklorica. Members of the society, along with their daughters and granddaughters, model fashions from their large collection of traditional, antique dresses.

Also on Saturday is one of the most delightful events of Fiesta: the Desfile de Los Ninos (Children’s Pet Parade). Children and their pets make their way through the Plaza area, showing off the original and inventive costumes of the kids and pets alike.

On Saturday evening, a more formal indoor dance is held. The Gran Baile de la Fiesta has been a much-loved tradition for over a century. Held in honor of the Fiesta royalty, the Gran Baile attire is intricate, historical, and extremely colorful.

Sunday’s events begin with the Solemn Procession, followed by the Mariachi Mass. The Desfile de la Fiesta is one of the last events of the Fiesta. Also called the Grande Parade or the Historical/Hysterical Parade (pictured above), anything and everything goes at this lively event, where prizes are awarded in several categories. The Fiesta then concludes on Sunday evening with the Candlelight Procession to the Cross of the Martyrs.

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