Thousands of runners, or corredores, dressed in red and white, and hundreds of bulls (roller derby players with horned helmets and plastic bats) line up early in the morning for New Orleans' annual Running of the Bulls. But there's only one designated "pope" to see them off. Each year, Andrew Ward gives the blessing of San Fermin before the run.
"The highlight for me is always the actual run and the building crescendo of frenzy and enthusiasm," Ward says. "Some people don't even go to bed on Friday night. Then the procession comes and everyone sees the image of San Fermin, the drummers, the massive puppets and the trumpets. Then finally the prayer itself, and then run for your lives!"
The mile-long route begins and ends at the Sugar Mill. The procession of San Fermin begins at 7:15 a.m. At 8 a.m., the bulls are released and chase costumed runners through the streets of the Warehouse District. Registration for the run includes access to the Sugar Mill for pre-run festivities and afterward for music by Vivaz! and DJ Brice Nice. A portion of the proceeds benefits Animal Rescue of New Orleans and the MS Society of Louisiana.
Mickey Hanning founded San Fermin in Nueva Orleans in 2007 after he had visited Pamplona, Spain, to run in the best known of the world's bull runs, which lasts for one week. The New Orleans event also includes some pre- and post-run parties. On the eve of the run, the Txupinazo is Friday at the Sugar Mill and features food from Commander's Palace, Cochon, Borgne and Patois. La Fiesta de Pantalones begins at 4 p.m. Saturday at The Maison (508 Frenchmen St.) and Los Po-Boy-Citos perform. Visit the website for a full schedule.