September 6, 2013 at 10:59 AM

The Skinny on Zozobra 2013

'We held our kids close, assuring them all was gonna be okay, their eyes ripe with wonder and awe.'

By José Smith

The Beans & Chile

José Smith is a writer, stay-at-home dad and fiend of excellent essays.

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Photo: Kelli Abeyta

I hadn’t been to Zozobra in at least six years. Not since my son was born. Our little family ritual in recent years has been to go to Fort Marcy with my son and daughter in the afternoon, check out Zozo for a while, then steer clear of the crowds and cranky-tiredness that would certainly come with staying up past the kids’ bedtime. This year though, we decided it was time for our kids to see Old Man Gloom go up in flames.

Fortunately we live within walking distance of Fort Marcy, so we tossed the kids in the stroller and headed to see Zozo around 6 p.m. The fiesta energy was in the air and it reminded me of my youth--when a night like Zozobra was filled with endless possibilities. Back then I was open to being sucked into the whirlwind of that energy and wherever it took me; walking that line of chaos was simply part of the fun. Now, of course, I’m too old for any of that tomfoolery, and with wife and family in tow, all I really wanted was order and safety and a couple of glow-y things for the kids.

What we pretty much experienced at Fort Marcy was what I wanted, other than me forgetting to bring enough cash to buy two glow-y things; a five-year-old and a three-year-old aren’t exactly hip to sharing one pink glow stick that their daddy tried to appease them with. This minor mishap on my part was the only big error of the night. Overall, the logistics of the event felt and seemed to be highly improved compared to the uproar over last year’s pricy tickets and what many had deemed a not-so family friendly event.

We sat near the music stage for a while, letting the kids dance and run around for a while before retreating to the back field once the crowd began to swell. Around ten after nine the last band wrapped up and moments later the lights went out. The crowd collectively stood up. We held our kids close, assuring them all was gonna be okay, their eyes ripe with wonder and awe. About fifteen minutes later Zozo crashed to the ground is a fiery collapse.

Although I still think a few minutes could be shaved off the fire dancer’s interpretive charade, once the field lights went out it didn’t seem to take too long before Zozo was toast. We were in good position to exit the field and did so with quick ease. Zozobra 2013 seemed to be a grand, much improved, success! I’ll always look back on it as the first time my kids saw Zozo go down. And who knows, maybe some of our fears and worries were burnt up as well. ¡Que viva!

A side note: Our cell phones struggled to receive data the whole time we were at Fort Marcy. I joked about the possibility that everyone there was sucking all the data out of the sky. Maybe Zozobra had something to do with this? Who knows...

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