El Kookooee. That’s the phonetic spelling of El Cucuy, a mythical bogeyman or pumpkin-headed ghost-monster found in Hispanic and Portuguese folklore. A bogeyman who may not like to be made fun of based on the appearance of a ghostly apparition behind a burning effigy of El Cucuy at this year’s El Kookooee festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
El Cucuy or El Coco may have evolved from a 17th century rhyme Spanish parents told to misbehaving children about a bogeyman with a hairy coconut-like face, possibly with glowing red eyes, who would scare them at night. In Mexico, El Cucuy grew into a menacing monster living under the bed who skips the scaring and just eats the bad children.
The El Kookooee festival expands those fears of El Cucuy to cover all fears. At the annual event held on the last weekend of October, attendees write their fears on slips of paper and stuff them inside a large cartoonish representation of El Cucuy, which is then set fire at night, sending the fears up in smoke.
That’s where the ghost appeared. Local firefighters Josh Ellis and Steve Vaughan were working at the event and took pictures of the burning bogeyman. While they didn’t notice anything unusual at the time, looking at the pictures later they spotted a giant humanlike figure floating behind the burning bogeyman. The apparition only appears in some of the photos and not at all in the video they took. While it freaked out their friends, Vaughn showed it to one person who had a logical explanation.
We showed it to the director of the event and he said oh that’s El Kookooee. He’s coming to take all of the fears away.
While Ellis and Vaughn swear the photo is real, no one else saw the image at the event and no other photos or videos have surfaced. It could be photoshopped or just a camera flare.
Or it could be a supernatural presence responding to the event to men who know the pain that fire can cause. While the idea of burning fears away is certainly therapeutic, did you see what they made El Cucuy look like? Perhaps the monstrous bogeyman prefers his movie version.