You really never know what you might see in a day in New Orleans. If you were one of the stunned people I saw pulling into the French Quarter in an airport shuttle on Saturday morning, what you saw was 8,000-10,000 men and women in red dresses carrying beers. The Red Dress Run actually originated in San Diego. That said, their event attracts 2,000 runners annually and the Washington D.C. chapter is attended by about 600 runners in red. NOLA is clearly where the party’s at!
The Hash House Harriers, a “drinking club with a running problem,” sponsors the run as a fundraiser. The original concept revolved around breast cancer but has grown to include over 60 non-profits. In 2011, the NOLA chapter raised almost $200,000 and had a blast doing it, I promise you.
The story goes, a newcomer came to join the weekly group meeting in San Diego not realizing it was a running club. She arrived in a red dress but, being a sport and dealing with their jokes, she ran the trail anyway. Thereafter, other runners began arriving in red dresses as a joke and, eventually, it became an annual event.
In NOLA, most events also include music. The Red Dress Runners were entertained by live bands in Armstrong Park. I’m sure the Bucktown Allstars got a kick out of playing for an ocean of red-dressed folks. There were also plenty of people pushing carts or wagons redone as parade floats (including the Animal House float) featuring loud boom boxes and beer coolers.
The weather was mercifully cool, but people came fully prepared, dragging coolers and carrying backpacks full of beer. The many husbands and other men in dresses reminded me of the Buddy D. parade when the Saints made it to the Superbowl.
I’ll confess that many events in L.A. look fun on TV and in photos, but are actually pretty boring. In NOLA, photos can’t even begin to capture the fun of most events. But, I took plenty and hope they begin to share some of the party in the streets.