Sunday, July 13, 2008
The Running of the Bulls...er, Cows,...er, Roller Girls
Ah, the Big Easy! New Orleanians are always coming up with new things to celebrate and new ways to wear costumes and get wild. The latest craze is the Running of the Bulls, New Orleans-style. Imitating the annual encierro in Pamplona, Spain, a local group has organized to celebrate the Festival of San Fermin by analogy to the bull-running made famous by Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises; Death in the Afternoon).
Like the runners in Pamplona, the participants here dress in white pants and shirt with red sashes and neck scarfs. Unlike the runners in Pamplona, however, the New Orleans runners are chased by the Big Easy Roller Girls, a local team of roller derby pros. For the event, Roller Girls (self-described by one Roller Girl as "a bunch of bad-ass chicks on wheels") carry wiffle bats and wear horns.
The Running of the Bulls, New Orleans style, first took place last year. I don't recall reading or hearing anything about it back then, so I was doubly amused to read Chris Rose's column on Thursday announcing it. The 2008 bull run took place on Saturday (July 12) and hundreds of people participated. The route goes through the French Quarter (of course), and includes stops at two "watering holes" (e.g., bars) along the way (of course).
I've come across some amusing blog entries on the run. Pontchartrain Pete calls it "a winner of a new tradition." Humid City has photos: Roller Girls in their bull costumes; the field of runners in their costumes. Local TV station WWL's website has photos of a guy in full toreador garb, as well as The Rolling Elvi--Elvis impersonators on scooters. And there are videos posted on YouTube, of course.
Looks like the Running of the Bulls will become one of N.O.'s midsummer draws: Last year 150 runners were pursued by 14 Rollergirls; this year there over 600 runners and 33 Rollergirls--exponential increases!
And animal lovers can rest easy: no real bulls are used.
(The official title of the event is San Fermin in Nueva Orleans. I briefly considered that perhaps the subtitle should be The Running of the Cows--since all the "bulls" are in fact females--until I realized it would have completely different implications. Dropped the idea quickly.)