Embellishing the bull
Organizers have put a Bull City stamp on the Durham version of Mardi Gras. The event’s slogan reads, “Laissez Les Bull Temps Rouler.” The Krewe organizations have names like Krewe du Durty (a krewe of the Durty Durham Art Collective), the Society of the Sacred Bull, and The League of the Tutu.
The latter organization has created a distinctly Durham tradition as part of the annual parade, transforming the bronze sculpture “Major” the bull into “Bullerina.”
Since 2011, the League of the Tutu has been dressing up Major in a giant tutu, said Mary Yordy, a member of the league. The transforming of Major begins just before the parade starts. This year will mark Yordy’s fourth year participating. Yordy, according to the league’s website, made the tutu for the first Bullerina session using nylon that Scrap Exchange Director Ann Woodward got from the free table of a church thrift shop.
Earlier this week, Yordy and other volunteers were getting ready to embellish the fabric, and “re-eingineer the way it’s gathered” (the fabric is about 12 feet long) so that it will fit well around Major.
Before the first Bullerina dressing, Yordy contacted sculptor Michael Waller, who created the bull, to make sure he did not consider their gesture disrespectful to Major. Waller gave his hearty approval, she said.
This year’s unveiling will have more pomp, with music by a Cajun band, Yordy said.
“I like making these large carnival objects rather than dressing up personally,” Yordy said of Mardi Gras. She used to live in New Orleans and “what made [Mardi Gras] special was the material culture of the festival, the things people made. We’re holding on to these objects and improving them year after year,” she said.