Today, everyone recognizes Thunder Over Louisville as the official start of the Kentucky Derby Festival. It’s grown to become the largest annual fireworks display in North America. That may sound hard to believe, given the Fourth of July fireworks displays all across the nation, but it’s the truth. I’m sure you’ve experienced the wondrous sights of Thunder Over Louisville before, but you may not know its interesting history. This year’s display is on April 21, so now’s the perfect time to learn a little more about the event.

The Kentucky Derby itself has been held every year since 1875, making it the longest continuously held sporting event in the country. As with all major sporting spectacles—the Super Bowl, March Madness, etc.—a slew of supporting celebrations have grown around the race itself. After false starts to officially organize a series of events surrounding the Derby in the 1930s, the Kentucky Derby Festival became an annual occurrence in 1956. The Festival, which occurs over the two weeks leading up to the Derby, draws more visitors to Kentucky than any other event.

The first official Kentucky Derby Festival event was the Pegasus Parade. Other attractions were added over the years, with Thunder Over Louisville making its debut in 1989. Envisioned as the Festival’s equivalent of an Olympic Opening Ceremony, Thunder Over Louisville had a modest first year. Held during the day, the attendance was around 10,000 people and the fireworks display was limited. Since then, it’s safe to say the event has exploded in both scale and popularity. Thunder Over Louisville now regularly draws over half-a-million visitors and sets off over 60,000 fireworks.

After being moved to the evening, which only makes sense for a fireworks display, the event began to take off. In 1992, an airshow was added to the Thunder Over Louisville program. Two years later, the organizers decided to adopt a yearly theme for the program. We’ve had “Thunder Road,” “A Broadway Thunder,” and many more. This year, the theme is “A Disco Thunder,” which promises plenty of neon lights and hopefully some grooving tunes as well.

Thunder Over Louisville marks the beginning of the most electric two weeks of the calendar. Whether you’re attending the event on the banks of the river, enjoying the display from a rooftop “Thunder party,” or simply watching on TV at home, I hope you have the chance to take in this one-of-a-kind experience. As Chic sang in their famous disco anthem, “Leave your cares behind / These are the good times.”

At Emery Law Office, we love getting exciting for local events like the Kentucky Derby Festival. We’re proud members of the community, and are honored to serve the great people of Louisville and beyond. If you’re ever injured in an auto accident, we hope you’ll choose the local, personal representation offered by Emery Law Office. You can always give us a call at (502) 771-1LAW (1529) to learn more about us.

Happy Derby season!

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