Kentucky Derby festival events to return, but without fans

Published 5:02 am Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Louisville’s citywide celebration leading into the Kentucky Derby will return this year, but its top events will look very different without spectators.

Kentucky Derby Festival organizers announced that the annual fireworks bonanza Thunder Over Louisville and the accompanying air show will not take place at the city’s Waterfront Park. Instead, the events will be presented with a mix of taped and live segments, in order to keep people from gathering in large groups.

The fireworks annually draw hundreds of thousands to the Louisville and southern Indiana riverfronts.

“Although 2021 will be different, fans will still see and feel the tradition of the Derby festival in the spring,” Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival president, said in a prepared release on Tuesday. “There will be fireworks, hot air balloons, bed racing, steamboats and more for the community to look forward to this year.”

The Pegasus Parade will also look different without a traditional procession down Broadway in downtown Louisville. Festival officials said details are being finalized, but the parade “is taking a new approach with a tribute to the parade that will bring the event to the community. ”

The annual festival, which begins two weeks before the running of the Kentucky Derby, was canceled last year as the race was postponed to September due to the pandemic.