On Sunday, July 15th, "El Diario de Navarra", the official paper of Sanfermines in Pamplona, ran an article that documented the first ever "Running of the Bulls in the French Quarter" (or as they call it "barrio frances"). Here is a translation of the article.
Mickey Hanning, 35 year old American, was in Sanfermines only once, in 2002, and ran in only one Bull Run, the one on the eighth. In spite of the brevity of the experience, it was enough to make him the idea man and organizer of a strange bull run in the French Quarter in New Orleans this past July 7th. The idea began to jell during this year's Marti Gras (Tuesday of Carnival), the most famous event of this American city. Dave Parker, a 33 year-old friend of Hanning, elected to disguise himself as a Pamplonian for that occasion and between the two of them they thought of the idea of making an homage to the Navarran city and its fiestas. Thus was born the first edition of the annual Sanfermines of New Orleans.
"After several weeks of meditating over many [cans] of beer we designed a plan", recounted Hanning. They would start at 8 on the dot, like in Pamplona, and they would have to look for bars that would support them in the project, like two locals that were open for 24 hours did: the Three-legged Dog and The Sidebar. The first would be the starting point and the second the finish (goal).
Hanning got a lot of help to organize this event, most of all from his wife, Beth Hanning, 39. She helped from the beginning and volunteered to do a multitude of tasks. In the end her collaboration was necessary in constructing the poster for the Bull Run of New Orleans.
Now only the bulls, or something that looked like them, were missing. Nevertheless, the organizers couldn't turn bulls loose in the streets of New Orleans, nor did the city give them permission to fence-in the run. It is necessary to add, too, they had little wish to be injured,
so they looked for a most ingenious answer.
Fourteen young ladies of a skating group armed with several baseball bats made like bulls. The idea to do a bull run arose on a Carnival Tuesday, beginning with a Pamplonian imitation (disguise). Tracey Belina, 25, had the idea. She belongs to a female skate team called Big Easy Roller Girls, and she got 14 members to volunteer to act as bulls. The idea was simple: they carried helmets, baseball bats and a T-shirt with a drawing of a red-faced bull, and they kept chasing the runners, who had to dress in red and white to participate. These 14 "chicks" were joined by a mechanical bull constructed by Mic Fedufa, another friend of Hanning. The original contraption was a shopping cart with a covering which made in the shape of a bull, and the horns were tubes which emitted smoke.
The idea this year gave a lot of pleasure, and Hanning's idea for next year is to use what they used to imitate the bulls this year, it's a sure thing. "We never thought of using real bulls, only inoffensive animals, like dogs", explained the organizer.
Finally, after several months of preparation San Fermin day arrived, and fortunately all was ready. The fourteen skaters were ready to give it their all in the festive atmosphere that prevailed.
The organization had not spent a dime on publicity, but thanks to mouth-to-mouth and a page in MySpace, and the Big Easy Roller Girls' blog, the event attracted a large audience. “We had figured, personally, that at least 50 people would come, and at the end there were 150, but the response was so good that there could have been 200. Evaluating the opinions that the participants have given us, we think this event could grow exponentially in the future," Hanning assured.
The fact is that from 7 in the morning until 8, the runners could drink Spanish products in The Three-legged Dog, and at 8 the race began.
Minutes later, after several friendly and inoffensive swats with the baseball bats, the party truly continued in the Sidebar, where 70 liters of sangria, made especially for the occasion so that bulls and runners enjoy themselves on a pleasant and long binge.
To download the article, you can go to the Press Page on The Big Easy Rollergirls' Website.
If you want to find out abour more events the NOLA Bulls are planning, visit them at NOLA Bulls