No, thanks

Get the LOCAL Perspective!

Find hidden gems and get insider information on NOLA’s best restaurants, bars, attractions, and events every week.

Runners Took Off Their Shorts and Slipped on Dresses

They trade tracksuits for ball gowns. Gatorade for cold beer.

The sneakers, those stay.

One day each August, at 9 a.m., seasoned athletes and drinking professionals gather on the patterned stone of Armstrong Park. They don all forms of ill-fitting fashion. Some sport tube tops. Others wear tutus. Everyone–gentlemen included–flaunts a fair amount of leg.

It’s a come-as-you-are kind of affair.

So long as you come in red, and so long as you aren’t wearing anything that resembles pants.

The yearly Red Dress Run is organized by the Hash House Harriers, a self-dubbed “New Orleans drinking club with a running problem.” It’s a charity event. It’s also a good excuse to have a couple cold ones while everyone else is still on their morning coffee.

As the clock nears 11, runners, joggers, walkers, and crawlers take their mark and steady their cups. A fog horn wails. And they’re off, with varying degrees of speed.

“Can I get a whoop whoop?” someone hollers. A resounding “WHOOP! WHOOP!” returns.

They snake their way through two miles of the French Quarter, the roads a river of moving crimson. Men and women sweat and spill on sequins and tulle, ruffles and lace. Arches of red balloons denote the path to the finish line.

Some won’t make it that far.

The siren song of Bourbon Street, for many, cannot be denied. Defectors start to pour in and out of bars, mob balconies. Eventually the crowd gets so dense Bourbon Street turns solid red. There’s dancing, drinking, music in the air.

It’s barely noon.

Photo by: Paul Broussard
Photo by: Paul Broussard

The Red Dress Run might have started in California, but NOLA has made the event its own. At 4,000 participants, it’s the biggest in the country. The money raised goes to support 100 local charities. Since their first run, they’ve raised $1.2 million.

Tickets are $55 and up. Advanced registration is encouraged. It’s open to anyone over 21 who wants to put on a dress and run for a cause.

Aforementioned cold ones included.

Visit New Orleans and start your story with #OneTimeInNOLA.

Jenny is a writer of culture both high and low. Her work has appeared in V Magazine, Lenny Letter, and TIME, to name a few. She first fell in love with New Orleans over buttermilk biscuits and strawberry preserves. She’s been a NOLA regular ever since.

Book Your Trip

Close