Thunder Over Louisville, known to locals as ‘Thunder’, is the kick-off to the Kentucky Derby. Two weeks before the Derby, thousands of people gather on the banks of the Ohio River to enjoy a day of thunder. While both sides of the river banks steadily become inhabited with people of all ages the river itself becomes littered with boats of all shapes and sizes.
Thunder Over Louisville Air Show
The air show is a major attraction that begins at 3:00pm on the Saturday two weeks before the Kentucky Derby each year. Streets are lined with vendors selling anything from hot dogs and t-shirts to necklaces and motorcycles. Hotels line the river, as well. Getting one of these prime front row rooms is nearly impossible. The rooms will need to be booked years in advance and come with a high price tag.
There is no doubt when the air show begins as the ‘thunder’ fills the sky. Skydivers make spectacular jumps and planes perform aerobatics through the clouds while military jets, stealth bombers, the Warthog, the Hornet, and other air crafts all but send your heart pounding with their passes. The air show lasts well into the evening hours with a special plane finishing it off with a slow pass through the night sky pulling an American flag.
The crowd stands placing their hands on their hearts while the American Anthem blares over the loud speakers, through radios, and televisions for miles around. It is this time that all remember that being an American came with a price.
Kentucky Derby Kick-off Fireworks Display
As dark approaches, eight 400-foot barges line up in the river to set off the fireworks. The barges simultaneously set off the display to both the Louisville river bank and the Jeffersonville river bank. The 2nd Steet bridge is illuminated with a firework waterfall all choreographed to music as the fireworks are launched.
According to Thunder Over Louisville.org, nearly 1 million armed forces and their family members world-wide witness the broad casted show. The fireworks show last a whopping 28-minutes. ‘Thunder’ is rated in the top 100 North American events according to the Thunder Over Louisville website.
If you are on the banks of the river during the fireworks show it will be something that will be carried with you forever. Each boom of the fireworks sends a vibration through your body while the ashes fall down on your head. The smell from the smoke hangs onto your clothes as the winds carries it through the air.
Tips for Visiting Thunder Over Louisville
It is wise to book a room well in advance if planning to attend ‘Thunder’. It is a full day of events with lots of activities for adults and children. Be sure to bring some extra cash for all the vending along the streets. The traffic will be intense after the show, so be sure to use the bathroom and have drinks available for the traffic jam. Police are on hand to direct traffic, but the enormous amount of vehicles take quite a while to empty the area.
Pick up a derby pin while you are there. They are made special each year with several winning pins made of a gold color. All of the pins come in a package with coupons inside. Also, take along a blanket and a cooler for the long day of activities.
Have you figured out what the thunder is? Well, it is the roar or thunder of the planes and the boom or thunder of the fireworks. Enjoy your venture as you encounter the ‘THUNDER’!