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Running of the FreshmenPeople running en masse often create an ideal special event that can help identify a city, region or place.

Take Pamplona, Spain, for example.  The Running of the Bulls is part of an eight-day festival that features people running for their lives as bulls chase them on their way to the bull ring.  While it dates back to the 14th century, it didn’t become “official” until the city council began regulating the event in 1867. Over time, it has projected the image of Pamplona all over the world as people have heard of the city where people run through the streets ahead of a herd of bulls.

Flagstaff, Ariz., -- more specifically – Northern Arizona University, has taken a safer approach.  The “Running of the Freshmen” has become a tradition that connects the newcomers to campus and helps celebrate the Lumberjacks’ first home football game of the season.  Prior to the home opener, some 4,000 first-year students gather on the athletics practice field where they have their faces painted in NAU colors and participate in other activities designed to get them into the collegiate spirit.  They are then herded to the field-level entrance at the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome, where they lead the NAU football team onto the field in the annual “Running of the Freshman.”

NAU’s Office of Housing and Residence Life came up with the idea back in 2006, so it’s now a 10-year-old tradition.

It’s not a Calgary Stampede or a “Run for the Roses”, but it’s surely a unique special event that works on several levels for the students, the university and the city.

Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
President Scott is president of HMA Public Relations and a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network. He’s a Phoenix native, husband, father of two and a fan of all sports and a participant in some. Check out Scott's full bio

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