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Pamplona-style bull run to go ahead in Ariz. town, organizer says

A Pamplona-style running of the bulls event is to be held in a suburb of Phoenix, the event promoter told msnbc.com Monday, despite the revocation of its permit by town officials.
/ Source: msnbc.com

A Pamplona-style running of the bulls event is to be held in a suburb of Phoenix, the event promoter said Monday, despite the revocation of its permit by town officials.

Phil Immordino told msnbc.com that six or seven runs would take place on Oct. 14 and 15 in Cave Creek on private property, and dismissed the town's decision to withdraw the special event permit as simply a way to prevent someone from suing it for any injuries sustained.

The Arizona Republic newspaper reported that the town wanted $3 million in insurance for the "Running of the Bulls Festival," while Immordino said he would only provide $2 million in coverage.

He said the event was being held on private land, so could still go ahead without a permit.

The event has been held three times in the United States before, in Mesquite, Nevada, in 1998 and 1999 and Rawhide, Arizona, in 2002, Immordino told msnbc.com by telephone.

"You know, there's some bumps and some bruises, some people get knocked over, but these bulls don't have sharp horns like they do in Pamplona," he said.

He said the bull run events, which started as a way to give a struggling rodeo some publicity, were "Americanized tremendously," with escape routes and medical staff on hand, but it was "still fun and scary."

'Animal-rights people .. going crazy'
Unlike in Spain, the bulls will not take part in bullfighting events or be killed after the run.

"Are you kidding me? The animal-rights people are already going crazy as you can imagine," Immordino said. "These bulls are worth a lot of money, nobody is going to be hurting or eating them."

He said cowboys on horseback rode the bulls along and the animals were "not in danger at all."

"The people are," he added.

Immordino said so far about 100 people had signed up to take part in the Cave Creek runs, but the previous events had attracted about 1,000 runners each.

Some 32 bulls, weighing about 1,500 pounds, are involved.

Immordino told msnbc.com that the "bottom line" was "there's a lot of individuals who get exciting about doing it," craving the same kind of "adrenaline rush" as people who like to parachute from airplanes or do bungee jumps.

'In-depth waiver'
He said participants had to sign an "in-depth waiver."

"If they did (get hurt), they're most likely going to name me in the lawsuit, but it shouldn't get them anywhere," he said.

Immordino said that only about two or three people usually got knocked over in the runs, but admitted the town council "is all freaking out and worrying about injuries and all that."

He admitted he had only a brief personal experience of his own event.

"I haven't actually run the whole race ... (but) I did get on the track with the bulls," Immordino said. "One missed me by about an inch and I said 'You know what, I'm not going to do this again.'"

Cave Creek's mayor, Vincent Francia, told the Republic newspaper that the bull run was "on my list of wishes for the town. It would be nice to be a part of because it is so Cave Creek." However, he said Immordino had failed to appear for a meeting about the event, describing that as a "red flag."

Animal-rights group PETA sent a letter to the mayor and council, asking them to "rethink the event, for the sake of the safety and welfare of both the people and animals involved," the paper reported.

Gemma Vaughan, a PETA spokeswoman, told the Republic that 200 to 300 people were injured every year in Pamplona and some had died in 2009.

"The bulls will be antagonized to run and could possibly injure participants and bystanders. People could fall into pileups and get trampled or gorged," she told the paper. "Bulls are bulls, and the danger cannot be denied."