Never mind the bullocks, here come the ... balls? Spanish town bucks tradition

A new tradition in Spain gives a whole new meaning to balls to the walls.

The small town of Mataelpino – just outside of Madrid – replaced the traditional livestock used in the Running of the Bulls celebrations that many towns in the European country hold, with 220 pound, 9-foot wide polystyrene balls.

The so-called "Running of the Balls," which was started four years ago, may be a favorite of animal rights activists like PETA, which recently suggested that other towns in Spain making the switch from bulls to balls, but in Mataelpino, it was less a humanitarian decision than a financial one. With Spain battling a major economic crisis and the town worrying how it would continue to fund its annual festival, a group of residents started batting around alternatives one night at the local bar.

“We started thinking, why not have a giant ball?”  Mataelpino resident Russel Sanguino told the U.K. paper, The Guardian.

So far, the Running of the Balls has been a huge success – both financially and culturally – with the idea of a smaller, children’s race being tossed around as well as some more extreme ideas.

“Next year we’re thinking of adding ramps,” Sanguino said.

The financial pressure of this new event is also becoming less of a burden as the town has been approached by a number of companies interested in paying for the right to place their logo on the gigantic balls.

And for those foolish enough to take the balls lightly in the danger department, Sanguino warned people not to be fooled – just because there are no horns its doesn’t mean that the Running of the Balls hasn’t put some people into the hospital.

“It’s a strong wallop,” he explained. “The ball is meant to mimic a bull.”

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