Thunder Over Louisville

Saturday, April 20, 2013. That’s the day so many people are waiting for because it’s Thunder Over Louisville! Lots of people, planes, and most of all … FIREWORKS! But has Thunder always been around? How did it even get started?

Before Thunder Over Louisville even existed, people celebrated for the Kentucky Derby Festival. Different events and parties would happen on days and nights to celebrate. On some nights fireworks were shot into the sky for fun. Eventually, an actual fireworks show was organized in 1990 as part of the celebration. They set all the fireworks along the Ohio River in downtown Louisville. This fantastic light show was such a huge hit, even larger than intended! Around the same time of year in 1991, the first official Thunder Over Louisville was held. The name “thunder” was given to this program to represent the sound of the fireworks going off.

This show is so fantastic and amazing, but it takes many people to help pull it all together. The amount of people needed to help out with this event is over 2,000. People are needed as safety officials, volunteers, and even participants. Individuals are also requested to help clean up the mess after Thunder ends. Sponsors are also needed to pay for the supplies that are necessary to produce Thunder. The total cost of Thunder is somewhere over $1 million. The estimated amount of people who come each year to see Thunder Over Louisville in person is half of a million people, but it is also broadcasted on multiple news channels for those who are not able to attend this extraordinary experience.

Eventually, the Thunder Air Show was added to this event. There needed to be something to keep people entertained during the day while waiting for the fireworks at night. The Thunder Air Show was a great idea because it allowed people see what kind of aircrafts the military was using or has used in the past. Over 100 U.S. Army planes participate in the air show. Many different pilots fly these planes around and do lots of amazing stunts for six hours. It’s pretty loud, but definitely worth seeing. It was ranked as one of the five top air shows in the country.

Today, Thunder Over Louisville and the Thunder Air Show are celebrated on the same day and are a national event. Thunder Over Louisville itself is the largest firework show around the world and is an international event. At 9:30 p.m., the firework program begins, but before any fireworks are ignited something else has to happen first. Two helicopters carry an enormous American flag into the dark starry sky while “America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner” are played on giant speakers loud enough for everyone to hear. After these two incredible songs finish, the fireworks begin. For the next 28 minutes, millions of people watch in astonishment as bright colorful fireworks soar into the sky and burst.

Whenever those 28 minutes end, the audience packs up and starts to go home with smiles on their faces because they had just witnessed a breathtaking event, Thunder over Louisville.

Thunder is the kick off of the Kentucky Derby Festival.

-Michelle Flora