I live in (well, now just north of) Louisville, Kentucky. This is the home of The Kentucky Derby, aka:
The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports
The Run for The Roses
The Longest Continuously Running Sporting Event In America
mouse over images for sourcesToday begins the official Countdown to Derby. Over the course of the next two weeks our fair city will host the largest annual pyrotechnics show in North America, a week of hot air balloon events culminating in a balloon race, parades, a steamboat race, parties, concerts, a marathon, and more...
Then comes the actual Derby, with all the hats and booze and celebrity-watching, and finally those two minutes when up to 20 glorious three-year-old Thoroughbreds tear around the track and the whole city (and millions of people around the world) stands still and watches or listens to see who wins. If you happen to live or work anywhere near the waterfront or Churchill Downs (the racetrack), you may grumble about the inconvenience of numerous streets - or hell, the whole city - shutting down to party for two full weeks, but even so, Louisville loves the Derby.
You don't have to know anything about - or even like - horse racing to catch Derby Fever. If you live in Louisville, you will, to one degree or another, participate.
First up: Thunder Over Louisville! From the official website:
Rated as one of the top 100 events in North America, the Derby Festival's Opening Ceremonies is truly a sight to behold. And each year, more than 500,000 eager thrill-seekers do just that.
The day-long event kicks off the two exciting weeks of events that are part of the annual Kentucky Derby Festival. The Thunder Air Show dazzles the crowd with more than 100 planes, aerobatics teams, daring sky diving teams and breathtaking stunts.
When it gets dark, the Thunder rolls. The fireworks will feature the latest in pyrotechnic power from Zambelli Internationale, America's "first family of fireworks". Eight 400-foot barges assemble on both sides of the 2nd Street Bridge to form the stage from which the fireworks spectacular ignites.
The breathtaking and mind-numbing 28-minute show includes Thunder's signature one-mile "waterfall" effect off the bridge, making the fireworks seem to rain down forever. And in the crowd's memory of the show, it does!
After more than a decade, the show remains the largest annual pyrotechnic display in North America. Seen by approximately 1-million U.S. Armed Forces, Department of Defense civilian employees and their families stationed in 176 countries and aboard 140 U.S. Navy ships at sea via a July 4th rebroadcast on the American Forces Network, it is the state's pride. A Discovery Channel documentary on fireworks shows says it best, "Thunder is the Grand-daddy of them all!"
How am I participating in Thunder? By staying far, far away! (I may watch a bit on tv, though.) It really is gorgeous, don't you think?