Organizers offer refunds, tickets to 2019 Zozobra for those left outside park after ‘miscommunications’

David Lynch
September 03, 2018
Link to original story on

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Two days after hundreds of hopeful Zozobra attendees were stuck outside Fort Marcy Park in Santa Fe when Old Man Gloom went up in flames, event officials in a statement said miscommunication was to blame for congested entry points, and they were implementing a plan to give refunds to those left outside.

Somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 people were unable to attend the popular annual event on Friday evening, venting their frustrations on social media one day later.

“I take full responsibility for the failures that led up to your being left out,” Zozobra Chair Ray Sandoval said in the statement released Sunday. “I hold myself responsible for these failures. I guarantee to our community that they will not happen again.”

Those who bought a ticket but were unable to attend the event are able to receive:

  • A full refund of the price of the ticket.
  • A complimentary poster from this year’s Zozobra.
  • Free tickets to Zozobra 2019, scheduled for August 30.

For those who came from out of town to attend and stayed in a hotel, event organizers are offering a complimentary hotel stay at the Drury Plaza Hotel between November and next April, or a discounted hotel rate for next year’s Zozobra.

That refund process can be started here, with a deadline of 5 p.m. on Oct. 15.

Several of what organizers refer to as “failures” on their part led to the somewhat chaotic proceedings Friday.

2018 was the first year Zozobra organizers allowed backpacks into the park, and separate gates were being utilized for patrons with them. When those lines were beginning to experience congestion, Sandoval said, “a security manager made the decision to utilize an additional five gates to check backpacks.”

Instead, miscommunication of that change led to all gates allowing backpacks, leading to the widespread congestion.

With storms on the horizon and decisions to be made about potentially changing the start time of the burning, Sandoval said event organizers were not made aware about all gates being utilized to check backpacks. He said when weather officials informed them of the impending storms, they decided to start the burning a half hour earlier than scheduled.

Security at the event then denied further entry to those still waiting to get into the park when frustrated crowds began to push through barriers and climb over walls.

“We had lost the ability to search the remaining backpacks,” Sandoval said, explaining the reasoning to deny entry and stressing that organizers had not oversold the event.

After being unable to get into the park for the burning, several took to Facebook to say security had told them the park was allegedly overcrowded. Organizers say miscommunication may have been a factor in that.

“As the event organizer, I take full responsibility for these failures,” Sandoval said. “We want Zozobra to be a world-class event, and so we must hold ourselves to that standard.”


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