Sunday, October 16, 2011

Arizona Town Hosts 'Running of the Bulls USA'

Tucson Citizen: Running of the Bulls USA went off without a hitch Saturday in Cave Creek.

The event is touted as a safer version of the famous annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in his novel “The Sun Also Rises.” Similar events have been held in Scottsdale and Mesquite, Nev.

Hundreds of daredevils came ready to run in a variety of costumes. Some had red bull’s-eyes painted on their backs, some wore red-and-white Spanish garb and others donned psychedelic wigs. All were ready to get their thrill on, and all were energized once they crossed the finish line.

As the event, which (progressed toward its halfway point Saturday), nobody had been injured, according to medical officials on site.

John Damasco, a Peoria resident and registered nurse at Arrowhead Hospital in Glendale, created his own T-shirt with his “bucket list” on the back, a short list of all the things he’d like to do before he dies. Saturday, he checked off item No. 12.

He said that when the starting gun went off, he knew the bulls would quickly make up the roughly 75-foot gap from the runners’ starting line.

“First you saw clouds of dirt, then the horns and then the bulls’ faces,” he said.

Damasco’s sister, wife and two children cheered him on from the sidelines of the quarter-mile track. Damasco said he had to persuade his wife, Sue, to let him run alongside more than 20 1,500-pound bulls. He said he was able to win her over because the event uses rodeo bulls, which are tamer and have duller horns than their Pamplona counterparts.

“He loves thrills, and he assured me that this is not like the bull run in Spain,” Sue Damasco said.

Leading up to the event, Cave Creek officials had received dozens of letters in opposition to the bull run, with some people planning to boycott the town. About 2,000 signatures have been gathered online protesting the event. Opponents say the bull run is harmful to the animals and could cause safety problems. Protesters were nowhere to be seen in Cave Creek on Saturday.

Phoenix resident Dean Lambrose survived the run and said that safety isn’t as big an issue as some people think. Lambrose received a rodeo scholarship to Weber State University in Utah.

“This is rodeo stuff,” he said. “These bulls are around humans all day long. They’re pretty domesticated. The traditional theory of running with the bulls has to do with running with them and alongside them. It’s when you start tormenting them that they start to get aggressive."

“This is a good thing. And it’s entertaining.”

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