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Santa Fe's plaza comes to life every September when its annual Fiesta celebration begins. The plaza is decorated with colorful flags and banners, and the lively music of Mariachi bands rings out throughout the days and nights of the event. Brightly costumed Flamenco dancers and other entertainers take their turns on stage to entertain jubilant Fiesta goers who crowd the plaza. 2012 marked the 300th anniversary of the Santa Fe Fiesta.

Each year Fiesta is kicked off with the dramatic burning of Zozobra, a fifty-foot boogeyman marionette created by Santa Fe artist Will Shuster in 1924. Zozobra has a black bow tie, black belt and cuffs, big green glowing eyes, and huge red lips. He represents a ritual burning in effigy of “Old Man Gloom” done to drive away bad spirits and dispel the hardships that people have experienced during the past year. The event is staged each year by the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe.

Fiesta royalty and dignitaries are introduced on the main stage, during the opening ceremony, then the entertainment begins. Mariachi bands spill off to serenade people on the surrounding streets and in nearby hotels and restaurants.

The tantalizing smells of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, sopapillas, chili rellenos, and other spicy Mexican foods prepared by the numerous food stands that line the plaza fill the air.

The first Fiesta was established in 1712, when Governor Marquez de La Peñuela signed a proclamation to commemorate Don Diego De Vargas' peaceful reoccupation of the city in 1692, following the 1680 the Indian revolt, when the city was burned and the Spanish colonists were driven out.

Founded in 1610, the historic city of Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Originally established a trade center by the Spanish, it became territorial capital in 1851 and the New Mexico state capital in 1912.