A quarter of a century ago, Michael McDonnell was in his mid-twenties and feeling revelrous when he and a beach house full of his cohorts decided to enact their own wacky version of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls in an unassuming bar in Dewey Beach. None of them could have anticipated that inaugural run down the beach with the bull in a costume in June, 25 years ago, would ultimately become Dewey Beach’s own “drunk uncle” version of Pamplona’s long held tradition…
McDonnell reflects, “It’s crazy to me… because the math caught up to me the other day, and it’s been so many years. In October I turn 52, and I’ve now been doing this half my life.”
McDonnell explains that as the Running of the Bull grew from that first year, there were a couple of tipping points that really kept the momentum going. The first was the year when Steve “Monty” Montgomery took over ownership of the Starboard, and the event turned from a beach house tradition into being managed by the establishment, and it became exponentially bigger. The other was when, on the precipice of the 10th Anniversary, the Washington Post ran a story in their Style Section on the event.
Since its inception, it has grown into an event that includes a fly over, a charitable event that over the years has raised a ton of money, and even become a multigenerational affair! Says McDonnell, “We now have kids who were two years old when their parents were forming the culture around the Running of the Bull, who are in attendance at the event. That always blows my mind!”
Over the years, the Running of the Bull has pulled a ton of stunts, especially as it relates to the matadors. They have had celebrities, brew masters, and politicians fight the bull. They saw their way through the legend of the lost girl—who is still missing somewhere out there in America. They have had multiple radio personalities show up to commentate the fights. And of course, there have been a slew of Elvis impersonators. So what, you ask, might be in store for the 25th Anniversary of this iconic local event?
The answer to that is: show up to find out! This is an event where Montgomery and McDonnell like to pull out surprises and keep the crowds guessing! It’s all part of the silly charm of this eventful weekend!