Every May, it seems as if Derby weekend both lasts for a month and passes by in a heartbeat. Missing last year was enough for me to forget how much more alive our city becomes in just the few days prior. Despite the cleaning of our streets, the KDF Marathon, the balloon race, and Thunder Over Louisville, I had a hard time realizing, this year, that the Derby was descending upon us, and descending quickly. Finally, last Tuesday night, as I sat outside of Galaxie with a girlfriend, I heard it… The buzzing.
Our city was awake! The new AC Hotel in Nulu was glimmering and moving, with guests flitting in and out the front door, a top-hatted porter waving folks into the garage. A thirsty pedaler slowly drove by, with riders laughing. Out-of-towners kept walking, bright-eyed into the bars and eateries on Market, and finally, I realized, it’s here.
My Derby weekend began on Wednesday when my photographer, Kyle, and I attended the great steamboat race as guests of the Louisville Boat Club. Friends flocked out in floral and nautical dress while a trailer from Rhinegeist Brewery kept us all far from thirsty. After cheering on the Belle of Louisville, we departed and met the boyfriend to head down to the Chow Wagon for some greasy food and late night giggles.
Thursday, Kyle and I found ourselves sitting in Millionaire’s Row for Thurby races. While the view and the food were spectacular, the company was even better, and we must have run into 100 people we knew, as well as 1,000 we didn’t as we wandered through the Clubhouse and Grandstand at Churchill Downs.
Friday, Bryan took the day off and we had a leisurely brunch at gralehaus before heading home for an all day mimosa fest with friends. A day of relaxing was exactly what we needed before heading back to Churchill on Saturday for the 144th Kentucky Derby. The rain didn’t stop all day, making betting a chore. I can’t say that I won anything at all, but I did manage to drink quite a bit of Old Forester before we piled in the car and headed to Rye on Market for a 10pm dinner that stretched until the lights came on in the bar. Sunday morning, a tradition of brunch with friends took place at River House restaurant.
Friends, I love the Derby. This time of year, there’s something special about our city. If you’ve never had the chance to experience it for yourself, please do. While I’m still a little sleepy today (and my feet definitely hurt), I’d do it all over again tomorrow if I had the chance.
This is Derby City.
** some photos by Kyle Lueken, while terrible cell phone photos are by me **
** special thanks to The Hat Girls for the amazing toppers **