Severe storms threatened Churchill Downs on Oaks Day 2012.
This is a shot of storm clouds in the vicinity of Churchill Downs on Oaks Day 2012.
Because of the potential for severe weather, Churchill Downs has added pop up tents and other personal tents as well as metal poles and stakes used to secure them to its list of banned items on Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days.
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Churchill Downs has added pop up tents and other personal, non-vendor tents as well as metal poles and stakes used to secure them to its list of banned items on Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days.
The decision to ban the items stemmed from safety concerns that arose during a mid-afternoon threat of severe storms on Oaks Day 2012. The weather threat prompted track officials to order the infield's evacuation – the first evacuation order in the 138-year history of the Oaks and Derby.
"The Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks have been outdoor celebrations at Churchill Downs since 1875, but last year's weather threat on Oaks Day was unprecedented and led to intensified post-event scrutiny of portions of our Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks operations," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. "While Kentucky Oaks Day infield evacuation was smooth and the response by our patrons wonderful, it was immediately obvious to all members of our track team and our law enforcement and public safety partners that those tents, and especially the metal poles and stakes that secured them, posed a significant safety threat to patrons, horses and anyone on our grounds.
"We were fortunate that the worst of the weather missed Churchill Downs that day," Flanery continued, "but the experience made this change in our hospitality policies a decision that was both easy and proper."
The ban on personal tents and metal poles and stakes is the only change to the track's list of hospitality and security procedures released annually prior to Churchill Downs' biggest days. It is the first significant change to the policies since 2009, when a 2002 ban on carry-in coolers to the infield was lifted. Coolers are now permitted for infield use only and can enter the track via Gates 1 and 3, but all are subject to search, and food items must be packaged in clear plastic bags or containers.
Along with pop up and patron tents, poles and stakes, the list of items not permitted for carry-in on Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days includes.
Glass bottles or containers;
Luggage (including briefcases);
Weapons (including knives).
The Kentucky Oaks is scheduled for Friday May 3 and the Kentucky Derby is set for Saturday, May 4.
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