Zozobra balloon set for Balloon Fiesta this year

Zozobra balloon coming to Balloon Fiesta this year

Pitched to the Santa Fe City Council as a way to boost tourism, Old Man Gloom will light up during Balloon Fiesta as it takes to the Albuquerque skies this year.

SANTA FE, N.M. — Two of the most well-known traditions New Mexico is known for are coming together in one balloon later this year.

The Santa Fe City Council voted 8-1 to approve $125,000 for a Zozobra balloon to fly in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Many consider Balloon Fiesta “the most photographed event in the world.” The idea behind the Zozobra balloon is to not only highlight a unique state tradition but also to boost tourism in Santa Fe.

While official renderings aren’t out yet, Zozobra chairman Ray Sandoval held up a picture of what looks like the balloon at a city council meeting. It is a full-sized Zozobra as a balloon.

So far, we know manufacturing the balloon will happen in the U.K. The balloon will be about 50 feet tall, resembling the likeness of Zozobra.

“Impressions a day from Balloon Fiesta is what is on social media. By having this special shape 130-foot Zozobra that doesn’t look like anything else, not the Creamland cow, not a teardrop, not Darth Vader, is going to help put our city and expand tourism for our city,” Sandoval said.

2024 is a big year for Old Man Gloom as this year marks 100 years of the “Burning of Zozobra.” The goal is to have the balloon ready to fly and tethered for the centennial celebration in August before Fiesta in October.

The balloon costs $300,000 overall so the City of Albuquerque and the Kiwanis Club will cover the remaining $175,000.