I recently ran with the Fort Lauderdale's hash for the first time. Though I had only heard whispers about the group's weekly shenanigans, no one running that evening (myself included) expected it to end in handcuffs and tears near the Fort Lauderdale airport -- though there were provocative TSA costumes involved.
After writing a post about the misadventure and then another post about the detained hasher's prior arrest in a thong involving Tasers, tear gas, and drag queens, Fort Lauderdale hash's community organizer, Virgin Dick (he preferred not to release his civilian name), told me is concerned the events have portrayed the runners as more reckless and intoxicated than they really were. He stressed that police rarely interrupt their runs and that my interaction with the group was outside the norm and simply a case of bad timing.
"Hash House Harriers has groups all over the world," Virgin Dick explained, his lighthearted tone suddenly serious. "After the post, I was surprised by the intensity of some of the comments. I mean for one, they called me an idiot over and over again. [It was] mostly the European [hashers] where they only drink after they run. But I've never been to a hash on this side of the ocean that does that."
He also had qualms such as our labeling the group "inebriated runners" in the headline and including real names and photos since some of the hashers are police officers and school teachers by day who don't want their hashing alter egos exposed. VD also divulged that since the post linked to their Facebook group, he was convinced to change the privacy settings from public to private.
"[Hashers] were offended the word 'inebriated' was used a couple of times. It made us sound a lot more drunk than we are in general. We're pretty straight while running; we don't get lost in the woods or anything. We're not inebriated. I don't know what the word is, but it isn't inebriated. But other than that, I thought it was a fair assessment of what we did."
In all of VD's time running with the hash in South Florida, he can remember only one other instance when police cut their run short: It was shortly after 9/11 when a police officer eating at a restaurant near the Fort Lauderdale airport spotted the hare laying his flour trail in the parking lot and confused it with terrorism. According to Paris, no police report was filed even though it ultimately led to the hare winding up on the other end of a cop's gun as 13 cop cars, three firetrucks, and a helicopter surrounded him.
The weekly Monday runs since the one I attended past the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport have gone smoothly and without police interference. A call to the State Attorney's Office revealed no record of the file or an intention to press charges.
While Stifel's prior arrest brought to light some amusing antics in a thong on Fort Lauderdale beach, it's important to note that he was not hashing at the time. Even though Stifel was only placed on probation he was Tasered, beaten, tear-gassed, and then shackled for trespassing. Drunk and dressed in a funny outfit, the similarities between that arrest and the one at the airport are uncanny.
"While I was hoping there would be enjoyable and even complimentary article about the Hash, I guess you have to write what you think people will be interested in reading," Virgin Dick said in a message after Wednesday's post. "Poor Plenty for 20 [Arthur Stifel] I really don't understand why he was harassed and arrested for wearing a thong."
Stifel and the rest of the Hash House Harriers in Fort Lauderdale and around the world, are an interesting troupe of folks. They don't usually cross paths with law enforcement, but when they do, their games tend to be misunderstood by police, reporters, and anyone outside their clan.
We won't try to explain the Hash House Harriers but instead leave you with Virgin Dick's words on his group: "We're beer drinkers with a running problem; that's it. We're like normal party people just looking for a good time."
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.