My friend Lacey is one of the Girls Rollin’ In The South (G.R.I.T.S.), a Central Arkansas flat track roller derby team. The team often donates entry fees to local charities and they regularly lend their talents to help raise money for various charities. When she asked me if I’d like to participate in an event imitating the famous De La Pequena Roca- the running of the bulls, where derby girls would play the part of the bulls, I had to say yes. That the money raised would go to Family Promise of Pulaski County was another very good reason to participate. It is a difficult and often complicated task for homeless shelters to care for families. By cooperating with multiple congregations in the area, Family Promise is able to house and provide an array of services for adults and children in need while allowing them to stay together.
The famous Pamplona Festival of San Fermin, or the Running of the Bulls as it is popularly called, is a centuries old tradition. A few years ago the Big Easy RollerGirls of New Orleans started a tradition based on the bull run giving people a chance to run through the streets of NOLA while being chased by horned roller derby “bulls”. The event has grown to more than 18,000 runners and hundreds of bulls. The NOLA Running of the Bulls is a one mile loop through the French Quarter. The Pamplona run is 957 yards and averages a time of two and a half minutes. The distance for the Little Rock Running of the Bulls is similar, making it an easy run, jog or walk for almost anyone.
Both the traditional Spanish running of the bulls and the NOLA reproduction are part of a larger festival. The bouncy houses and the mariachi band playing on the lawn of the Clinton Library along with free rides on Joey the Friendly Fire Engine and a playful photo booth provided the festival atmosphere for the inaugural Running of the Bulls Little Rock.
Craig O’Neill from THV11 came out to start the runnings, beginning with the little ones. The littles shot out from the starting line as if real bulls were right behind them, giving the bulls a run for their money. Afterward, Mr. O’Neill encouraged the kids to do a little victory dance which somehow morphed into Whip/Nae Nae and into a fit of giggles.
Then it was the big kids’ turn at running from the horns. Lined up just in front of the Clinton Library and the roaring dinosaurs advertising the current exhibit inside, the would be matadors readied themselves for the chase.
With the short course, some took off at a sprint, forcing the bulls to give quick chase. Others hung back long enough to give the bulls slow moving targets.
The inaugural event in Little Rock had patrons of the restaurants and shops along Clinton Avenue on the sidewalk with cameras out to take photos of this strange but entertaining sight. Hopefully some of them will join the revelry next year. You should too. Until then, support Family Promise of Pulaski County with a donation if you can or check to see if your congregation or an organization you’re affiliated with serves them. Check out the Girls Rollin in the South at their next bout and see them in action. Most of all, keep an eye out for the announcement of next year’s Running of the Bulls Little Rock.