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Elvis Romero and Fiesta de Santa Fe: Featuring Zozobra’s Great Escape

Andrew Leo Lovato

For three centuries, the Fiesta de Santa Fe has commemorated historical events including the Spanish reconquest of New Mexico by Don Diego de Vargas in 1692 and the confraternity of the Rosary named in honor of La Conquistadors. Over the generations the oldest community celebration in the country has evolved to include elaborate parades and processions, including the royal court of De Vargas and La Reins, and memorably, the burning in effigy of Zozobra, or Old Man Gloom, drawing locals and visitors each autumn. Accompanied by rare historical photographs, this book illuminates what is special about Santa Fe's yearly celebration in a fiesta memoir and novella centered around Zozobra by Santa Fe native and cultural observer Andrew Leo Lovato. "Children are the heart of Fiesta," writes Lovato. And so enters Lovato's altar ego, a fictional character named Elvis Romero, who, with his cousin Pepa, engages in a scheme to rescue Zozobra from his inevitable demise. In a Huck Finn tale for all ages, Lovato captures the essence of Fiesta de Santa Fe as only a child can experience it. It is a heartwarming tale that will make readers cheer for Elvis—and Zozobra.


Andrew Leo Lovato is a professor of speech communication at Santa Fe Community College. He is the author of numerous books and articles relating to New Mexico history and culture, including Santa Fe Hispanic Culture: Preserving Identity in a Tourist Town (University of New Mexico Press).


"Lovato captures many of the historical and ritual goings-on of the 299-year-old Fiesta de Santa Fe with text and photographs from the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives. . . . Lovato also includes a thrilling fictional tale—the centerpiece of the book—about a boy named Elvis Romero and his cousin and best friend, a girl named Pepa. In the story, Elvis and Pepa decide to liberate Zozobra from his appointed fate and hatch a plan to hide him. The author zeroes in on his own childhood fears and worries about Zozobra's safety through his central characters, who are amalgams of the kids he grew up with in Santa Fe. . . . Lovato examines, in a playful and sentimental way, the feelings of empathy he and other children had and do have for Zozobra."



"More than a colorful retelling of a young boy's realization, the book is also a narrative of the past. . . . Black-and-white photographs of the fiesta's past complete the story (and) also complement the last part of the book, a Fiesta de Santa Fe timeline, which chronicles the start of the Santa Fe Fiesta from 1625 to present day."


New Mexico Daily Lobo

"A lovingly crafted tome featuring stories about Fiesta de Santa Fe and idyllic black-and-white photography."


Santa Fe Reporter

Published By Museum of New Mexico Press

7.5 x 9.5 in. 76 pages 20 duotone photographs