You can just feel it in the air, the city is alive and ready to party. Derby Week is without a doubt, the one time of year that being in Louisivlle is probably more fun than anywhere else. Few cities throw a party like we do and with each passing day, you can just feel the excitement build as the big race gets closer and closer. I know it sounds silly to throw a two week party over a two minute horse race but around these parts it's a pretty big deal and a huge sense of pride for everyone in the community. Yesterday was the Great Steamboat Race and being a steamboat race, there was a lot of cheating. Sometimes the rules apply but for the most part they're strictly optional. Needless to say, the rules seemed to apply yesterday and the local Belle of Louisville was disaqualified for using a tug boat to help make the turn up river.
Today was the Pegasus Parade and a huge crowd lined Broadway for one of the bigger parades in the country. Tonight the bars will be hopping as most people have tomorrow off. Friday has typically been known as "Louisville's Day at the Races", a day for the locals to enjoy the second biggest day in racing, the Kentucky Oaks, the premire race for 3 year old fillies. Lately though, Oaks Day has taken on a life of it's own and a crowd of over 100,000 will pack Churchill Downs for a day of racing. That's when the real party begins though and things won't slow down till sometime Sunday morning. All around town, parties will be in full force as Hollywood invades once again. Bars that normally close at 4 AM will be allowed to stay open around the clock till 6 AM on Sunday morning.
Thankfully I won't be among the 150,000 drunken fools at the track on Saturday, I'll be at a friends party with 20 or so drunk fools. I've done the Derby many times myself, I think I've been to about 15 races, but I just don't have what it takes to throw down in the rowdy infield or the money for a $1,000 ticket in the grandstands. My wildest Derby infield would have been 1993 when I got so damn drunk on everclear that my eyes rolled back in my head and the military police had to drag me out and parade me around the track to the first aid tent. From what friends have told me, I didn't cause any trouble but my blood alcohol content clocked in at over 2.5, as close to death as I've probably ever come.
Scene from the Derby Infield
What made it worse was that out of all those people, the cameras for one of the local television stations somehow fixed in on me being dragged out of the infield and naturally everyone, my Mom and Dad included, saw me in all my glory. It took several hours for the medical staff to clear me to leave and it wasn't till they gave me fluids that I was even able to stand up. That night I slept 26 hourse, waking only a couple of times to go to the bathroom. Sadly it wasn't the last time I got stupid drunk at the Derby but I never came close to being an idiot like I did that May day many years ago. Party On!