For 54 years, a host of floats, bands and of course horses have made their way through the streets of Louisville, Kentucky to celebrate the Kentucky Derby, the King of all Horse Racing. The parade is the longest running event of the Kentucky Derby Festival, a two-week party leading up to the big race on the first Saturday in May.
The parade is marched down Broadway Street to crowds exceeding 200,000 people. The parade is now listed in the top 15 of all annual parades in the nation.
The 2009 Pegasus Parade’s Grand Marshall was Kenny Perry and his father, Ken. Perry, a Kentucky native finished 2nd at the 2009 Masters Golf Tournament and was part of a successful USA team in the 2008 Ryder Cup. Honorary Grand Marshalls included the University of Louisville’s women’s basketball team who were this years NCAA National Championship runner-up’s and Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
This years parade consisted of 13 floats, 7 inflatable balloon floats, 10 marching bands, 18 equestrian teams, and 43 specialty and radio partner entries.
High winds caused problems for the inflatables, with the Pegasus inflatable, the signature inflatable for the event, having to depart a few blocks past the grandstands. Other than the high winds, the threatening rain held off until the last units passed the grandstands.
My wife’s mother-in-law scored a pair of tickets for us for the parade. When we got them, we were stunned. We were in the first row of one of the grandstands and had a parking pass a half a block from the review stand. I-65 dropped us onto the right street, three blocks and a left turn into the parking deck and a half block walk to our seats. The parking was so good, that even leaving was a piece of cake.
Our seats were sweet by any definition, directly across from the TV cameras broadcasting the parade and right by the judges, but it was made even better because there were enough no-shows to not crowd the area. Of course, being a photographer, I wanted a better view point and I made my way to street level where several other media photographers were shooting from. The street level seats were also mostly vacant from no-shows giving me a great vantage point.
About 20 minutes into the parade, several people showed up escorted by the Derby Festival and they were being pointed to the seats next to where I was shooting. Had I stayed put, their view would have been of my back-side, so I chose to move behind them so they could watch the parade. The guests were: Blake Shelton and what I assume was his band. Shelton was to play a concert after the parade. They stayed for about a half an hour before taking off.
Thousands of people enjoyed the event.
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