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Old Man Gloom, sorrows up in smoke

SANTA FE, N.M., Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Residents of Santa Fe, N.M., watched their hopes go up in smoke -- a good thing -- as Old Man Gloom Zozobra and his "gloom box" were burned.

The burning of Zozobra has kicked off the city's Fiesta de Santa Fe, began 83 years ago as a way to spice up the event, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Friday.

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Zozobra's burning is supposed to rid people of their sorrows.

By the time Old Man Gloom was ablaze, more 100 messages were in the "gloom box,'' including such missives as "Bullies," "Unforgiven! No T-shirts for fat guys" and "I wish my sister (would) stop being mean to me."

Others sought relief from illnesses, for their parents to get back together and for the courage "to pursue my dream.''

Before being set ablaze, Guinness World Records officials were on hand to measure Zozobra at 49 feet, 6 inches, officially pegging him as the largest marionette ever.

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