25th Thunder attracts estimated 650,000 to waterfront - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

25th Thunder attracts estimated 650,000 to waterfront

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Thunder Over Louisville 2014 (Source: Power Creative/Dan Dry) Thunder Over Louisville 2014 (Source: Power Creative/Dan Dry)

From the Kentucky Derby Festival

April 12, 2014. Louisville, KY.   – Picture-perfect weather lured a crowd of more than 650,000 to the waterfront for the 25th Thunder Over Louisville show. Spectators lined both sides of the Ohio River as far as the eye could see. Thanks to the generous support of the event's six presenting sponsors, Horseshoe Southern Indiana, KentuckyOne Health, LG&E, Meijer, UPS and Valero, as well as community McDonald's Thunder Funders - this year's show featured a spectacular lineup of aircraft, as well as the traditional pyrotechnic spectacle.

"With the cold winter behind us, we kicked off the 2014 Derby Festival season with a bang," said Mike Berry, Kentucky Derby Festival President & CEO. "From the Blue Angels performance in a packed air show to the fireworks finale, we could not have scripted a better day."

[SLIDESHOW: 25th annual Thunder Over Louisville]

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, flying their signature blue F/A – 18 Hornets, wowed the crowds with their aerobatic maneuvers and precision flying.  The United States Air Force F-22 Raptor Demo also returned to the Thunder air show this year.  The world's only fifth-generation fighter showcased its stealth and advanced avionics.  Several civilian air acts performed including Team Aerodynamix – the world's largest air show team with 12 aircraft, as well as Lima Lima, Trojan Horseman, Bill Leff Nightshow, among others.  Attendees along the waterfront were also able to experience Ford's Thunder on the Ground on the South Great Lawn, an interactive display area featuring kid's activities, food and retail vending.

Serving as the official "Thundernator" for the 2014 Thunder Over Louisville fireworks show was "Festival Fanatic" winner Melanie Chilton of Louisville.  Chilton won the opportunity to be Thundernator through a special second chance promotion sponsored by the Kentucky Lottery.  Keeping with this year's theme, "Throwback Thunder," the fireworks soundtrack featured songs from all past Thunders.

"We couldn't have asked for a better forecast," said Thunder show producer, Wayne Hettinger.  "It was a show to remember for the 25th Thunder and the fans showed it. You could hear the crowd cheering all the way up here on the 24th floor."

Thunder Over Louisville - the Kentucky Derby Festival's Opening Ceremonies - is one of nearly 70 events produced by the Derby Festival in the spring. The Kentucky Derby Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. It entertains more than 1.5 million people annually. Thunder alone contributes more than $56 million in economic impact to both sides of the Ohio River. This involvement has made the Derby Festival the largest single-attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.