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Running of the Bulls Weekend in New Orleans

Updated on July 21, 2017

Belle Fast & HolleyWannaSmackHer

Not just another Saturday morning.....

Ask your typical tourist and first timer to the city why they chose New Orleans as their vacation destination spot to visit, and the most common response is Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Essence Fest or even Voodoo Fest. Those are the events that bring in the most tourists into the city of course. But there is a growing tradition that happens ONE day a year. Jazz Fest is two weekends, Essence and Voodoo one weekend, and Mardi Gras actually runs for two full weeks. Of course there are other festivals and awesome events that happen around Louisiana in general, but that’s another article. Anyway, I want to talk about “The Bull Run”. This epic weekend is what Roller Derby Lovers from all over the world come to be a part of. It attracts thousands to one general location for just one July Saturday morning.

In New Orleans the bulls are actually Roller Derby Women of all ages adorning their helmets with horns. "Running of the Bulls in New Orleans started because someone told Los Pastores that the secret to getting rich was to start a festibal that was free and open to the public. Now that they’re all broke, Los Pastores have decided to start charging a registration fee to cover operating expenses and raise a bit of money for charities along the way."

"Self-titled “El Padrino” (The Godfather) of San Fermin in Nueva Orleans, Mickey Hanning was born on the Westbank of New Orleans. During an inebriated Mardi Gras in 2001 he promised a comrade he would test his bravado in Pamplona. One-and-a-half years later, he made good on that promise to attend Sanfermines (the festival in Pamplona). During Mardi Gras 2007, he & La Madrina birthed the idea of San Fermin in Nueva Orleans after seeing a friend dressed as a Correro (runner). He quickly found other integral Pastores to make it happen."

Running of the Bulls in New Orleans

Go Team Canada!

A Wedding Proposal at the Finish Line

Tara aka SCOOBY DOOM has been playing roller derby for eight years. She currently skates with the Hammer City Roller Derby in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. She is a person I look forward to seeing every year. We actually befriended each other when I was registering skaters for my Sunday Roller Derby Mash Up and I noticed that she was coming all the way to the "dirty south" from Canada! I was super excited to meet her, see her skate, and have her a part of something that seemed to be a trend that was growing very quickly.

"A friend I skated with back in 2011 stubbed on an article and sent it to me. It was about a month before that bull run so I wasn't able to pull it off that quick... but I kept it on my radar and signed on as soon as registration was open for 2012." This year (2017) was her 6th year in a row at the bull run; and this is something that she intends to come to as long as she can. Her words to me one year was actually, "Until I die". She is one of the many skaters that travels miles and days to get to New Orleans just for the opportunity to skate through the streets and hit people with a plastic bat and then the very next day skate in an intense co-ed "mash up" with skaters of all levels of experience. When she skates, I love hearing people scream, "GO CANADA!" Having her skate in a Sunday mash-up is an absolute pleasure because she always shows up with a super positive attitude and is brave enough to skate with the men from NOLA BRASS.

This year something special happened to her at the finish line and her boyfriend of three years was waiting for her there on one knee. When I asked her if she had any idea, she stated," I had my suspicions as he said he was going to a Few years ago.... and when this year was approaching there were a few things that were said and done that made me think he might. I had no idea it'd be at he actual run. .. he threw me off saying we were gonna go for a carriage ride on the Sunday. AND I had no idea ALL of my friends knew it was happening" Her finance Andy is her biggest fan and ultimate supporter. They don't think they will be getting married in New Orleans since both of them have so many friends and family in Canada, but they are not ruling out New Orleans as a possible honeymoon destination.

The Bull Run Route

CCDD at NOLA Motor Sports

Shoves and Kisses from HolleyWannaSmackHer

Crescent City Derby Devils History 101

I started getting involved with the "Bull Run" seven years ago. My first year was just as a spectator. I had no idea what any of it was about but loved the idea of people running from roller derby girls swinging plastic bats. I remember how much I would love to be a part of some how. Either as a runner or preferably a bull. What I soon found out was that you needed to be a part of a team, an excellent skater, and be able to have some amazing endurance and agility to maneuver around the thousands of drunken runners.

Well, I am an average skater held together by duct tape, hopes and dreams. I figured out my first couple of years with the Crescent City Derby Devils that I wasn't able to hold my own in a scrimmage as a blocker without getting repeatedly injured, didn't have the skills to be a pivot, or the endurance or speed of a jammer. I found my place with CCDD as a coach, trainer, NSO, and event planner.

Everyone has a place and can serve a purpose on any team, especially in the roller derby world. There are so many things that need to be done to pull off a bout that skaters don't need the pressure of dealing with. The New Orleans home team is the BIG EASY ROLLER GIRLS, they are the queens of the south. Making major strides in the Roller Derby community for over a decade. I started CCDD with a group of people from the House of Shock Horror Show in NOLA, with the intention of having a recreation team or skate club that can bring theatrics and entertainment to roller derby events without pissing off or stepping on the toes of the BIG EASY girls.

Fast forward to today....six years later, and we have evolved into a skate club. This consists of people that love to skate for fun, bring skaters together for events, and help Big Easy RG and NOLA Brass Mens Team raise money for their travel teams. I am so blessed to have those two teams pretty much be the parents to CCDD and give us a place to have our insanely ridiculous "mash ups" in their warehouse, help us with community charity fundraisers, and even promote The House of Shock Horror Show every year when the haunt hosts a Roller Derby Night every October.

Bull Run weekend we all come together to make sure that Roller Derby skaters, refs, NSOs, and fans have the best time they can possibly have while visiting our city. Since the bull run starts so early in the morning, we usually wait until the afternoon to start the next event which is the CCDD Scavenger Hunt. This is an interactive hunt which involves way more than just looking for items. It has become a tradition that is getting bigger every year as word spreads and pictures are blasted on social media. We usually meet at RARE FORM on Esplanade around 4:00pm Saturday to pass out the hunt list and prop bags. Yes, there are props that Amazing Kate aka The Minute Maid puts together, and also trophies and prizes are up for grabs. Certain teams do it just for the bragging rights. The 8 wheel mafia (Capital City RG) would be one of those teams. They pride themselves in being the team that has won at least three years in a row. One skater from 8WM, REAPER stated that she could care less if she missed the bull run or even the Sunday game, but she is NOT missing the scavenger hunt. She has a title to defend after all.

I think even if I was to stop being involved with the bull run weekend festivities entirely, I would still want to host a scavenger hunt that weekend with my CCDD peeps (Kate, Deeds, Lex, and SonBov). It is a great excuse to kick it at Rare Form, which is an epic restaurant and bar owned by my dear friend Asia, catch up with roller derby extended family that you usually only see once a year, and hear everyone share their stories about what happened for them on the bull run route.

It is a weekend that people look forward to all year long and ends much too quickly for some. For me personally, by Sunday night I want to collapse from exhaustion because Saturday for me is the halfway marker. I still have the Sunday bout to run with NOLA Brass Coach, Hennessy Williams. We push through on very little sleep making sure everything is ready for the following day at the Big Easy RG warehouse. The Sunday event is the wrap up for us. We bring as many skaters from the run together, mix them up and put together a themed co-ed mash up. This gives skaters from any level and from other states, a chance to skate with people that they may never have the opportunity to otherwise. This years theme was CLASH OF THE TITANS: Good vs. Evil, but previous themes have been BORDER PATROL vs. THE MEXICAN CARTEL, THE SPANISH INQUISITION vs. THE BLACK PLAGUE, and SUPERHEROS vs. VILLAINS. A really dumb theme is expected and also equally dumb and over the top trophies and awards. Yes it is awesome when a team I coach wins, but I also don't mind the losses either. It is for FUN, bringing awareness to our community about the sport of Roller Derby, and most importantly, bringing skaters together.

This July mash up was actually the kick off to the CCDD mash up season which consists of four events total. Any money that is brought in will either go to a charity of the team's choice, or to the travel or warehouse expenses for BERG and NOLA BRASS. Follow any of our pages on Facebook to find out the exact date of the next mash up in September 2017. I will keep doing CCDD mash ups as long as I have the support and backing from Big Easy RG and NOLA Brass, so thank you everyone for supporting my madness and my love for such a killer sport. (LINK TO ORDER YOUR CCDD TSHIRT!)

CLASH OF THE TITANS/ Good vs. Evil 2017

Double Diva #40


"I first heard of ROTB thru my teammates back in 2014. They raved about how much fun it is and that I should totally go! This is my 5th year and I'm addicted. I love socializing and meeting all the fun energetic derby fans and I always look forward to the annual CCDD mashup as well. I come to New Orleans usually for other derby events, and always try to make time to explore the city."

This is one of my favorite out of towners and one of my favorite skaters to coach at a CCDD mash up! I will warn anyone that skates against her to look out for those hip checks and shoulder hits. She is a total bad ass!

"RainBone Crusher" (most beloved Referee)

Julie aka RainBone Crusher has been involved with roller derby for 4 years and is currently a referee for Peoria Prowlers Roller Derby in Peoria, IL. 2017 was her second time as a Rollerbull. "The atmosphere of the bull run and just of the city in general is like none other. New Orleans has always been one of my favorite places." The scavenger hunt and the mashup are some some of the other things she looks forward to as well during the weekend chaos. When I asked her how she is feeling after a full weekend of non-stop derby action she responded, "Exhausted! But also fulfilled from the experience and anxious for next year!"

Can you spot the derby girls in this picture?

the "where's waldo" scavenger hunt challenge
the "where's waldo" scavenger hunt challenge

Thousands Participate In The New Orleans Running Of The Bulls


What about the Guys?

So if bulls are really girls, then what are the guys? Well, unfortunately this is a tradition where no men are allowed to skate as a bull. The only way a man can skate is if he registers as a ref and skates along side the bulls. This is really a divided issue in the roller derby community. Should the bull run be co-ed? I personally think it should be, especially in New Orleans. One of the coolest emerging teams is the New Orleans Brass Mens Team with the best females backing them from the Big Easy Rollergirls.

When I was putting this article together, I asked a few female skaters what their thoughts were about guys joining the run and none of them minded but they wanted them to be considered "Herders". You ask guys the same question and they wanted to know if they could get away with just dressing as a female and that way everyone is the same?


CCDD Saturday Night Scavenger Hunt 2017 winners!

Nobody Can Beat the 8 Wheel Mafia aka Capital City RG!

Bulls Demolishing People


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    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 

      16 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      I know what you mean. Anytime we want to hang out in the quarter, we make sure we do not go down there when there is some kind of event going on. Way to crowded and parking always sucks.

    • DerbyDevil1974 profile imageAUTHOR

      Holley Rich Coleman 

      16 months ago from New Orleans, LA

      @ Ryan Fuller, there is definitely NOT a dull moment in this town that is for sure. Sometimes it gets a little annoying, especially when you just want to go to the park and not have to deal with 200 extra people in town for whatever convention, concert, or party.

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 

      16 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      I have never been to one, but I always here they are a blast. This and the red dress run seem like a blast. New Orleans has some awesome festivals and parties to attend. Love that city.


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