The 23rd Annual Running of the Bull is set for Saturday, June 29, at the Starboard in Dewey Beach.
For Michael McDonnell, event founder, the Running of the Bull is as sacred as any high holiday. When McDonnell and 35 friends gathered at the Starboard to throw their own wacky version of the Pamplona bull run 23 years ago, encouraged by then-Starboard owner Chip Hearn, the result was a head-turning sight gag. But times have changed, and the event has evolved.
McDonnell said, “After we had children, my wife said it would be more fun for her to attend with our kids if there was a kids’ run. That was all her idea. Now, I love seeing those 100 kids the morning of the event, running up and down the beach. To me, this is how they keep this whole thing alive. I can’t wait for the day when someone says to me that they started at the kids’ run, and now they are at the adult run.”
Today, the Running of the Bull is a full-blown Dewey Beach tradition, with Dewey police and DelDOT on board to help it run smoothly and safely as runners amble down Route 1 and over to the beach to await the bull’s arrival. Never having missed a run in its 23-year history, McDonnell is the master of ceremonies. Always wearing a red bandana and holding a beverage in his hand, he’s connecting with the crowd and marveling at the ingenuity of the fresh crop of bull runners. “I’m always amazed at the creativity of the attendees. Whenever I think I’ve seen it all, somebody walks in dressed in a costume I have never thought of,” he said. “One of my favorite things is when people tell me they met their spouse at the bull run.”
What will happen this year? The only way to find out is to be there in person June 29. The children’s run begins at the Dagsworthy Avenue beach at 10:30 a.m., and festivities at the Starboard will kick off about 12 p.m. The big run happens at 3 p.m., but the party never truly stops. Just ask McDonnell.