Running of the Bull, Dewey style

Anyone retired and living in the Delaware Beach Towns who fears not having enough to do, please think again. Aside from the numerous music venues (many free), the robust art festivals, numerous hiking, bird watching and kayaking locations, pickleball, a plethora of exercise classes, day trips and excursions organized by area senior activity centers, there are some unique special events that take place once a year. One of them is the Running of the Bull (singular) sponsored by the Starboard Restaurant and Bar in Dewey.  

If you think this might be a 20-somethings event, you are only partly right. Yes, the parking lot’s packed afternoon “cocktail party” primarily attracts this demographic, the actual event at 2 pm, two humans dressed in a bull costume running along the beach, is a spectacle that you won’t see anywhere else. You can squelch your secret desire to dress up as a Matador at the Running of the Bull and no one will care! And you can tap your feet to the tunes of an Elvis impersonator who typically entertains. Anyone can run the “Race”.  

Hey, it’s a fundraiser for the Rehoboth Volunteer Department this year and the event takes place on June 24, 2023. This is the 25th anniversary for the Running of the Bull. It is just plain fun for kids of all ages. There is even a fly over by vintage airplanes that is worth a visit in and of itself.  

Of course, the Dewey version is patterned after the Pamplona, Spain Running of the Bulls that takes place this year during the San Fermim Festival. The Running of the Bulls 2023 dates are July 7 – 14, 2023 in Pamplona. The festival runs from July 6, 2023, at Noon, until July 14, 2023 at Midnight.  

The Dewey originator – Michael McDonnel – was in his twenties, and along with a cadre of beach house cohorts, decided to invent their own version of the Pamplona tradition. And so, Running of the Bull was born, unbeknownst at the time, to Starboard. The rest is history. The Dewey Bull Running is not unlike the Pamplona version in that people in their twenties “then” are still attending now.  

McDonnel has turned 52, a senior by AARP standards, and he gives full credit to Steve Montgomery, current owner of Starboard, for evolving the Dewey Running of the Bull that has financially benefitted the local police and fire departments over the years. 

McDonnel’s kids were two years old when their father hatched his brainchild, and they now are adults who fit the demographic that provides the funds from the people who support this community event.  

The actually “running” is relatively short – a few blocks – and after, more reveling in the Starboard parking lot takes place. Many folks dress in the traditional white and red attire like the Pamplona’s special outfit. It is a FUN afternoon! 

This event can be a family affair. It is an option if you fancy an excuse to visit Dewey or if you just want something you might not see if you don’t go to Pamplona.  

By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist

Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland.

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