Louisville, Ky. – The Kentucky Derby Festival is moving into the final days of set up for their Opening Ceremonies: Thunder Over Louisville set for Saturday. Crews and vendors have been loading-in and setting up since Monday and are running on schedule for Saturday, despite the rising Ohio River. As has happened in past years, the water line will set the crowd line.
“With weather in the Ohio Valley, it would be unusual for us not to be talking about some flooding,” said Mike Berry, KDF President and CEO. “With 26 years of producing this event, we have learned to plan for it and are able to work around it. Everything will be in place ready for show time on Saturday.”
Some real estate will be lost within the Thunder venue, including about half of the North Great Lawn, the 4th Street Wharf, as well as lower parts of the River Walk. Metro Parks also says Cox Park and lower Eva Bandman will be closed Thunder Day due to flooding. There is still plenty of seating within the venue at the Thunder Chow Wagon, southern portion of the North Great Lawn and the Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere. Areas east toward the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge will also be open for seating.
“The changes to the venue this year have been mainly operational and won’t affect the overall experience for fans,” said Matt Gibson, VP of Events. “Necessities like port-o-lets will be moved to higher ground if necessary and to support areas where we know the crowd will move to. We’ll continue to make those adjustments as necessary through Saturday.”
Flooding also causes a faster current on the Ohio River, which means one of the fireworks barges will sit between The Clark Memorial (2nd Street) Bridge and the Kennedy (Interstate 65) Bridge this year, and the second barge will sit upriver from the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge. This will keep the barges up river, away from the McAlpine Locks and Dam.
Said Wayne Hettinger, Thunder Producer, “We’ve got quite a stage for the show this year – spanning from the K&I Railroad Bridge to the 2nd Street Bridge for the air show, then from the 2nd Street Bridge to the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge for the fireworks, and everything in between. Fans sitting all along the river will have a front row seat to the show!”
Thunder Over Louisville – the Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies – is one of nearly 70 events produced by the Derby Festival in the spring. The 2015 Thunder Over Louisville, themed “Boom With A View,” is set for Saturday, April 18, and will be the will be the 26th annual production. The show is sponsored by Horseshoe Southern Indiana, KentuckyOne Health, LG&E, Meijer, UPS and Valero.