400 'bulls' set to run through downtown New Orleans
Don Ames Reporting
Not to be outdone by Pamplona, Spain, New Orleans kicks off its own 'Running of the Bulls' event this evening.
The four-day celebration of 'San Fermin in Nueva Orleans' kicks off tonight with the 'Marques de Caceres' Wine Dinner at the Bourbon Orleans.
The festival officially gets underway on Friday, with the 'El Txupinazo' party at the Sugar Mill, 1021 Convention Center Boulevard. The festivities run from 5 to 9 p.m., with live music and deejays, performances from local dance troupes, a roller derby demo and food and beverages. This event is free and open to the public.
The actual 'Bull Run' is Saturday morning.
"8:00 a.m. is when we start, but you can come out as early as 6:30 and start getting your liquid courage on," says event co-founder Mickey Hanning.
Hanning says some 400 'bulls' will be chasing runners through the streets of downtown New Orleans.
The 'bulls' are actually young ladies from the flat-track roller derby league...most of them from the Big Easy Rollergirls, but also from roller derby leagues across the country.
"They're coming from everywhere," says Hanning. "The majority, obviously, from Louisiana. But they're also coming from Texas, California, Massachusetts, Canada, and Alaska. We have one girl that's coming from Guam."
"They'll be out there on their skates, with horns on their helmets, wielding plastic wiffle ball bats as their 'goring mechanism."
And, don't take the girls lightly.
"There's a lot of pent-up energy in these roller bulls," Hanning says. "So, you have to beware and know what you're getting yourself into, because you might go home with a couple of bruises."
You can run or watch for free, but NolaBulls would prefer you pre-register and chip in a bit. The group supports Animal Rescue New Orleans and the Louisiana MS Society.
Registration is mandatory for access to the air conditioning, some of the entertainment, bars, and food.
"Even if you don't want to get swatted with a plastic bat, you can just stand on the sidelines and watch everybody else get hit."
The festival will wrap up Sunday with participants tending to their wounds at a 'Poor Old Me' party.
Hanning expects another crowd much like last year, with some 12,000 participants.