LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – The decision to eliminate large crowds from Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) events was not a surprise to downtown businesses.
2021 will becomes the second straight year of restrictions due to COVID-19.
The Galt House Hotel, which normally counts on a sellout from Thunder Over Louisville fans who are looking for a spectacular view of the fireworks, hopes the Festival is still successful in building excitement and momentum for the Kentucky Derby.
“And that’s what it really is about,” said Skip James, a Galt House spokesman, “that community spirit and getting everybody geared up for not only Thunder itself, but Thunder is the kick off to the festival of the Derby.”
In recent years, Thunder had drawn massive crowds of up to 800,000 to Waterfront Park and surrounding areas. For non-profits lucky enough to have riverside locations, the event was a big fundraiser.
The Frazier History Museum is already booked for a Thunder Over Louisville party, but management is waiting for details on how the event will be conducted before moving forward.
“We’ve got a shot,” said Andy Treinen, Frazier History Museum president. “We can have one heck of a party here with big monitors and showcase whatever the firework show and air show is this year. But like I said, we’re kind of in a wait and see mode.”
Others have already canceled plans entirely. The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts normally attracts 1,500 people to its annual Thunder fundraiser.
“Given where COVID numbers are right now,” Kentucky Performing Arts spokesman Christian Adelberg said, “given the level of caution that’s necessary right now, we understand Kentucky Derby Festival’s decision.”
The sentiments were repeated by every organization approached for this story, agreeing with KDF’s decision that the time is not right to safely get back to normal.