Every year, on the second Saturday of August, the streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter are filled with red. Red dresses to be exact. Thousands gather for the annual Red Dress Run, which supports many charities in the New Orleans area by encouraging runners (and wobblers) to register for this completely fun and over-the-top event.
This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited to New Orleans by the New Orleans Hotel Collection. On our agenda, was a morning breakfast in the St. Joseph’s room of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, followed by some intense people-watching during the Red Dress Run. The Red Dress Run was created 25 years ago, in California, by the world’s largest running group. The Hash House Harriers created the event to support local charities in the San Diego area, but over the years, the event has spread all over the globe, including New Orleans.
As we ate our fruit, grits, eggs and gumbo, we were mesmerized by the costumes that passed by. The rule of the Red Dress Run is “you gotta wear red, and it’s gotta be a dress.” Women and men follow the rule to a tee, while others decide to take it to the next level by adding red wigs, tutus and even ball gowns to the mix. There were even some brave enough to paint outfits on themselves, which may have seem like a bad idea in the humid, 90 degree weather, but it actually was genius.
New Orleans natives see this event as an off-season “locals” extravaganza, but most commented that this year, the turnout was overwhelmingly fun. Tourists seem to be getting wind of the event, entering the race and proudly sporting their red dresses for charity, which can only be a great thing for all in the end.
The best part of the Red Dress Run was the residual pops of color that we saw throughout the day and even into the night. Some sported their outfits and costumes way into the evening, even during Dirty Linen night, another local event.
While some may be deterred by the heat of The Crescent City in August, this weekend seems to be a great time to visit New Orleans and get a taste of why natives love their hometown and why they were adamant about returning after Katrina. NOLA is back, and in August, it’s proudly painted red.