Friday, May 01, 2009

Kentucky Derby Mania

(Kristie here)
Since it's easy to take something for granted when you're in the middle of it, I wanted to share an insider's view of how fun Louisville is around Derby season (to say nothing of how great this city is year-round). I say insider's as in "I live in Louisville," not as in "I'm in the know or I have enough money to attend the real live Derby" sort of way :).

Louisville really comes alive the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby, but most especially the two weeks preceeding the 'Run for the Roses.' Celebrities flock to town, restaurants and businesses run Derby specials and there is some type of Derby-related party or festivity happening every day.

It seems to me that the locals either love or hate the Derby. Some people get totally into it, like the women at my work who wore their derby hats yesterday. Others purposefully leave town or get grumpy because of all the traffic and road closures. That's an interesting reaction to me, because the Derby brings so many benefits (community-wise and financially) to the city.

Speaking of locals, something I never knew before I moved here was that most Louisvillians go to the Downs the day before the Derby for the "Oaks." They even cancel schools for it every year. I don't know much about it or how significant it is, but it's treated similarly to the Derby - complete with the hats and all.

As for the Randolphs, we participated in more Derby activities this year than we have in the past two years. Here's what we've done:

- Thunder over Louisville - a huge fireworks display over the Ohio River and city skyline.
- Balloon Glow - hot air balloons light up during the night.
- Half-marathon - I ran this year and loved it. You run through the inside track of Churchill Downs.
- Opening weekend of Churchill Downs.
- Watched the Derby winner garland of roses being assembled and John tasted Derby Pie.

Lastly, we actually contemplated going to the Derby this year. It's not going to work because John is bogged down with schoolwork, we didn't want to fork out $280 for the cheapest seats, and we decided against "woodstocking" it in the infield. The infield ($40 a piece) is basically a huge party where some crazy stuff goes on. Your chances of actually seeing a horse are little to none.

Here are a few pictures of our Derby adventures.

Balloon Glow at Waterfront Park.

John, me (post-13.1 miles), and my brother Tyler
who came in for a weekend visit.

Opening weekend at Churchill Downs.

Watching the Garland of Roses being crafted.
This baby weighs 40 lbs. and uses more than
400 roses...all hand-sewn into place.

John says, "I love Derby Pie."

1 comment:

Ashley & Chuck said...


You rock for tasting derby pie! Did you have to train for that?