NEWBURYPORT — The city’s usual sleepy fall morning routine got a jolt from its first-ever “running of the bull” yesterday, a sight that caused a flurry of excitement for dozens of residents and police.
It wasn’t what one would consider to be a planned event.
A 700-lb., 8-month-old bull escaped from Tendercrop Farm in Newbury and made its way down residential streets to the outskirts of the downtown. It drew a big crowd of observers before being corralled and brought back to his home.
Matt Kozazcki, owner of Tendercrop Farm, said he got his first “bovine 911” call at around 8:30 or 9 a.m., reporting that one of his cows was on the loose. He found it wandering near Parker Street in Newbury, not far from the farm.
It’s not a simple thing to catch a bull that size. Kozazcki said he headed back to the farm to get the metal gates that must be set up in order to herd the animal onto a trailer. But by the time he had his gear packed and ready to herd, the bull had taken an unexpected turn.
Kozazcki said cattle have escaped before, and they always preferred staying in the country. Not this fellow. He was next seen sauntering down Marlboro Street, a residential road that runs from High Street to Water Street in the city’s South End. It may seem like a long distance to travel, but perhaps not so far for a city-bound bull — he likely traveled along an abandoned railroad right-of-way that leads directly from Parker Street to High Street at March’s Hill, very close to Marlboro Street’s entrance.
From there, the big black bull walked down Marlboro toward the Merrimack River and then ventured down busy Water Street, heading toward the downtown.
“I guess you could say it was looking for love in all the wrong places,” Kozazcki said.
By that point, he had attracted quite a bit of attention. Several people snapped photos, and a crowd of about 40 people lingered in the area of the James Steam Mill apartments, where the bull stopped. Newburyport police were on the scene, trying to figure out how to get the big beast under control safely, and hoping he wouldn’t make a charge for the downtown a few hundred yards down the road.
Herding a bull in such an urban environment was a serious conundrum, but then the bull did something to make it easy. It headed into the city’s sewage treatment plant, which is fenced in. Once inside, it was trapped. The herd gates were set up and he was steered into the trailer.
By Friday afternoon, Kozazcki was joking about the event, but at the time it was a stressful matter.
“Nobody got hurt, and that’s the important part,” he said. “We were a lot more worked up about it than the bull was.”