NEW ORLEANS —
The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, is part of an annual event, the San Fermin Festival, that has taken place there since the 16th Century in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by sharp horns.
The event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”
Every year the event is covered by media from around the world that show the young men in white shorts and red sashes who participate in it. And those media reports also document the participants who have been injured as a result of their contact with the bull’s horns or being trampled on by others who were fleeing the bulls .
Like many traditions, it has inspired events that now occur in other parts of the world. One of the more interesting and humane ones take place in mid-July in New Orleans that is also called “The Running of the Bulls.” But the bulls that fill the streets of that city’s French Quarter and Central Business District are not of the bovine variety, but are young and middle-aged women on roller skates who are armed with plastic bats that they use to strike young men wearing the same white shirts and red sashes worn by their counterparts in Spain. The men, some of whom wave red capes at the bat-wielding women, run on a designated route through those locales.
Many of those women are members of roller derby leagues from throughout the nation who have participated in the gathering for the past several years. And in keeping with the New Orleans tradition of expanding civic events such as the running of the bulls, that started there in 2007, has now grown to include several related events that include a wine dinner that is held the night before the actually running as well as several other events that take place after it has concluded. One of them is a tribute to Ernest Hemingway that features aspiring writers who have been inspired by his work.
One intrepid young man from the Oklahoma City area, John Byrne, who is a student at the University of Oklahoma in the Business College, plans to participate in that event and face the plastic bats of the female participants. He reports that he will not be alone in that endeavor and that several of his fellow students from OU will be joining him.
Byrne is hopeful that he will be able to enjoy the historical architecture of the French Quarter buildings and minimize his contacts with the plastic bats that he and his friends will confront on the run. He will be sending selfies from his phone from the event to his friends and family in Oklahoma City and Norman and he is also looking forward to enjoying the great food and entertainment that the City of New Orleans is known for.
William F. O’Brien is an Oklahoma City attorney.