The Fun Also Rises

2005 running of the bulls in Dewey, DE
The crowd at last year's Running of the Bull. "People like to goof around at the beach," a founder of the event says. "It's stupidity for stupidity's sake." (Courtesy Michael McDonnell)

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By Susan Kinzie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 7, 2006

DEWEY BEACH, Del. Sometimes odd things happen at the beach.

Tomorrow afternoon here in Dewey Beach, police will shut the main drag as hundreds of people surge through the two-block-wide Delmarva town and storm the beach. Mothers will grab their children and weekend visitors will jump out of the way as throngs appear over the dunes, yelling " Toro, toro! " then charge along the surf with a bull chasing them.

Well, two people in a bull suit, actually. And maybe not chasing so much as stumbling blindly inside the fleecy costume.

This is the 10th year of a tradition created on a whim that inexplicably ignited: the Running of the Bull, apologies to Pamplona. The instigators were, of course, a Washington corporate lawyer, Michael McDonnell, and his beach house buddies who weekend in this laid-back, sunburned, bloody-marys-to-take
-the-edge-off town.

They'll gather with celebrants in white shirts and red bandanas at the Starboard bar. When the DJ plays "Wooly Bully," the crowd will go nuts. Garrett Walsh, District software developer and longtime head of the bull, and Jamie Fargus, Bethesda research coordinator and tail, will shimmy in, suited up. Some guy will play Spanish songs on a little guitar as the crowd weaves out, shouting and whacking the bull with rolled-up newspapers. Then, after the run, they'll head back to the bar for a ridiculous semblance of a bullfight.

People plan summer vacations around this.

Elvis will be there.

And some guy's planning to propose to his girlfriend tomorrow at the bull ring.

The bull is huge.

On Sunday, Walsh couldn't get through one bar without being stopped by an affectionate stranger slurring, "There'sh the bull!"

At a neighboring bar, the band stopped mid-jam to sing "Ol?, ol? ol? ol?!" The crowd shouted along. Walsh looked over the sweaty, staggering-drunk-by-midafternoon crowd like a proud father.

"The whole town's abuzz," he said.


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