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Gloom Be Gone!

NMCO was on the scene, anxious, waiting, cameras rolling. It began when the sun set. A thunderous laugh emerged through Fort Marcy Park. Darkness began to take over and Old Man Gloom, better known as Zozobra began to unleash his despair upon the world. Eery music played and he lured the children of Santa Fe, known as gloomies, to help him deliver his sinister doom. Before long the light erupted and Zozobra realized he’d been fooled. It was not a party in his honor, but a coax for the gloom he carried to be engulfed in flames.

Ignited by the fire spirit!

This tradition, known famously as Zozobra, has carried on since 1924. It all began with an artist from Pennsylvania, Will Shuster and a marionette. Part ghost, this boogeyman emerges from rebirth every year carrying the world’s stress and grief. New Mexicans have since partaken in a burning and release.

New Mexicans and spectators from around the world gather to celebrate this fiery cleanse from sadness and distress every year for Labor Day weekend. This year NMCO Media ventured to the heart of New Mexico to document the 96th annual burning of Zozobra, a year more important than ever for banishing gloom.

It was the first year since 1924 to not have a full crowd. Due to the New Mexico health orders and the Covid19 health crisis the event was restricted exclusively to media and the press. The ceremony would only be available through a live stream. NMCO was prepared and eager to help the ritual live on through your screen.

“As a born and raised New Mexican, I had always heard about Zozobra, but never made it up to Santa Fe to experience it. I can’t believe I was lucky enough to go to the press-only event with NMCO for my first time. The event was much more ceremonial than I had thought, and the dancers and fireworks were absolutely captivating. It was such a great experience to be there in person with the volunteers and fellow members of the press, all of us sporadically yelling ‘Burn him!’ as he met his fiery end. So much fun, and so much more personally meaningful than I thought it would be, ” said NMCO’s senior graphic designer Dana Apodaca.

Amidst an international health crisis that has caused economic despair, so much isolation and sadness the Santa Fe Kiwanis Club knew that Zozobra, this year, now more than ever, needed to be burned. “Zozobra is representing the Coranavirus this year. He’s got murderer hornet cufflinks and he’s got coronavirus hair,” said Ryan Miller, President of the Santa Fe Kiwanis Club. “Zozobra is always the gloom in the world and in New Mexico we want to burn that gloom and get rid of it,” Miller said.

What is gloom?

Normally, each year, people from New Mexico and around the world submit various documents by mail to be burned within Zozobra. Documents that represent sadness and melancholy. Old Man Gloom is stuffed with explosives and various confessions, regrets, messages, divorce papers, pay stubs, and even mortgages to be burned and banished.

This year, due to Covid 19 all gloom submissions were taken online by the official website for Zozobra and the response was massive. “He has more gloom in him, and he’s heavier with gloom this year than he has ever been because we have been accepting it online,” said Miller. “We had over 100,000 gloom submissions,” he said. 

Australia, England, Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, Norway, India, South Korea, Poland, Canada, Russia, Estonia, the Czech Republic and across the United States people submitted their gloom to be burned. That wasn’t the only thing unique to Zozobra this year. Prior to the dance of the fire spirit, performed by Helene Luna, healthcare workers carried torches to the 61.5 meters (53 feet) tall Zozobra in a dance of resistance.

It’s not all gloom and doom.

To even better expel gloom since 1964 the Santa Fe Kiwanis club uses funding from each year’s burning for youth programs and scholarships. “The funding every year goes to the Kiwanis Foundation with a separate board. They get proposals for youth and children’s programs across northern New Mexico and disperse funds based on impact in the community,” said Miller.

“I’m glad to have experienced it, it seemed so exclusive this year, and I hope to see it in its full glory next year, complete with people shouting ‘Burn him!’ It’s hard to believe this tradition has been going on for nearly a hundred years. Definitely a testament to the culture and heritage New Mexico brings,” said NMCO’s video specialist Ralph Diaz.

Older than burning man…

NMCO was honored to extend this unique event to your living room, supportive of youth and culture. Despite the restricted access free yourself from gloom, heal the emotional wounds of 2020 and check out NMCO’s animation and graphics of the event on our social media and Facebook. You can also download and share our poem graphic above.

NMCO Studio member, Kahlo


Door Greeter & Cookie Eater

Kahlo is our gentle, friendly, office pup! He loves his belly rubbed, sniffing absolutely everything, and hasn’t found a treat he wouldn’t eat! Be sure to say hi, he loves the attention!

NMCO Studio member, Kelsey

Kelsey Gentile

Web Specialist

Once those websites are complete, Kelsey is our web maintenance manager. From regular updates, security checks, and content updates, Kelsey keeps our websites running smoothly, secure, and in tip-top shape.

NMCO Studio member, Annakat

Anna Kat Hollis

Senior Web Developer

Anna Kat is the driving force behind NMCO’s web development endeavors. With a sharp intellect, unwavering efficiency, and a keen eye for goals, she is the go-to expert for crafting everything from sleek landing pages to nationally acclaimed e-commerce sites. Anna Kat not only serves as your trusted web developer guide but also, if you look closely, you’ll notice she’s always impeccably color-coordinated with NMCO’s brand – a true testament to her attention to detail and commitment to the company’s image.

Zac Wittstruck


If you’re needing quality animation, Zac is your guy! Motion graphics, custom character rigging, and 2D animation are some of Zac’s specialties. Zac always wears a smile and is truly one of the nicest people you’ll meet. When Zac isn’t whipping out great animations, he plays bass guitar for a local jazz band! What a cool cat!

NMCO Studio member, Arron

Aaron Walterscheid

Video Specialist & Cinematographer

Meet Aaron, NMCO’s “Silent Assassin.” Despite his quiet demeanor, Aaron is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to videography, editing, color grading, drone operation, lighting, and crafting unforgettable cinematic experiences. His remarkable talent and expertise shine brightly, leaving an indelible mark on every project he touches.

NMCO Studio member, Sam

Sam Palm

Video Specialist & Photographer

Meet Sam, our resident photographer extraordinaire, who effortlessly transitions into the roles of Director of Photography, editor, color specialist, and an all-around Jack-of-all-trades. With an innate talent for capturing picture-perfect moments, Sam’s versatility knows no bounds. Beyond the camera, you’ll find him cruising the Southwest, embracing life to the fullest. Oh, and did we mention he boasts a head of truly great hair? 

NMCO Studio member, Ralph

Ralph Diaz

Senior Video Specialist

Don’t confuse Ralph with Academy Award-winning actor Johnny Depp. Although there’s a close resemblance, Ralph is much more talented behind the camera. He’s done it all from VFX to animation, to producing, directing, and editing some of our most memorable productions. It also should come as no surprise that he’s mastered the technical and practical aspects of videography, giving him the nickname, “The Doctor.”

NMCO Studio member, Dana

Dana Apodaca

Senior Graphic Designer & Art Director

Dana’s journey with NMCO has been nothing short of impressive, starting as a design intern and progressing to become a designer who now plays a pivotal role in assisting with art direction. Her dedication keeps our graphics department on track and ensures our processes are efficient and business-ready. Dana’s knack for creating identity systems has resulted in some of our most recognized work. And, if you’re fortunate enough to listen in, she’s consistently voted the best playlist in the studio.

NMCO Studio member

Dawn Franco

Studio Manager

With a background in journalism, file archival and organization, Dawn is our client onboarding extraordinaire. From contract preparation, to project management, account direction, and reporting, Dawn stirs the pot for most productions, making sure it’s served hot and on time.

NMCO Studio Co founder, Lucky

Lucky Gonzalez

Founder & Chief Executive Officer

When you have a wealth of creative content, you need someone like Lucky with 18 years of business experience to guide you on where to put it. He’s our media placement guru, with the expertise and know-how to maximize your impact. Whether it’s digital banner ads or broadcast TV, Lucky can take any budget and transform it into impressions and conversions. He’s dedicated to finding solutions for your unique challenges, making him an invaluable asset to our team.

NMCO Studio member, Tina

Christina Ballew

Founder & Chief Creative Officer

Tina, as a co-founder of NMCO, has been on a relentless mission to redefine creative services in the southwest. Building a creative studio from the ground up was a formidable challenge, but her vision and determination have transformed NMCO into a beacon of professionalism and innovation, known for its people-centric approach and out-of-the-box thinking. While she’s taken on nearly every role in the studio, Tina’s next ambition is nothing short of global. She’s poised to take on the world with her creative endeavors.