It is Kentucky Derby Week, and since I live in Louisville, I feel it is my duty to write about my experiences for those who grew up here, and for those who may never get to enjoy one of the coolest sporting events in the Good Ole US of A.
The Kentucky Derby does not begin on the first Saturday in May in Louisville. It really begins with Thunder Over Louisville, which is a firework and air show extravaganza that occurs exactly two weeks before the Run for the Roses. Thunder Over Louisville summons to Louisvillians that Winter is truly over, and spring rings eternal once again. Throughout the day, about 500k plus descend upon Louisville’s downtown to enjoy greasy food, amazing airplane acrobatics and a fireworks display that I would put up against any other one in the world.
After Thunder, there are then two weeks of absolute craziness. Every single day there are events that include hot air balloons, bed making, bed races, marathons, steamboats, wine and concerts. It is these two weeks that really makes me proud to call myself a Louisvillian and it is the Kentucky Derby that is the epicenter of these events.
For those of you who have not had the opportunity to come to Churchill Downs, especially for Derby, I can’t tell you enough to get here at least once in your life. The feeling of going thru those gates is indescribeable, especially on Derby day. As soon as you enter the temple of horse racing lore, your five senses are immediately awakened. Immediately, the smell of the grass, the roar of the crowd, the touch of the program in your hands, the taste of that hot dog, and the sight of the majestic beauty of these powerful animals waft over you.
I remember one co-worker of mine telling another one earlier this week that the reason they liked a certain food is because it reminds them of when they were a kid. It is the experience more than anything. I believe that Derby and Churchill Downs is a little bit like that. The experience of the paddock where the horses are prepped before they walk out onto the track is amazing. The gamblin’ horsemen prod over their programs one more time looking for a winner, the women in beautiful bright colored dresses and hats sip from their mint juleps and the beautiful animals await their destiny.
It is too hard to put into words how amazing it truly is. It is not only a part of this city but it is a part of this nation’s fabric. As I said before, if you have not ever experienced it, do not put it off too much longer. You are going to be kicking yourself that you didn’t come sooner.