> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Ideal weather conditions attracted more than 650,000 people to both sides of the Ohio River for Saturday’s Thunder Over Louisville, according to the Kentucky Derby Festival.
The event, which is the kickoff to Kentucky Derby festivities, lured folks with an air show that featured the return of the Blue Angels — back after being forced to miss last year’s show do to federal budget sequesters — capped off by a massive fireworks show.
As expected, Southern Indiana roadways were jam-packed with festival-goers streaming into Clarksville and Jeffersonville eager to find the perfect spot to watch the planes and pyrotechnics.
Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer said “things went pretty smooth” with no big issues despite construction from the Ohio River Bridges Project causing traffic headaches.
“Every place had a little bit of construction going on,” said Palmer, about the main routes motorists used to make their way to Clarksville, including Ind. 62, Brown Station Way and Interstate 65. “We were trying to keep bottlenecks from happening.
“It was a little more time-consuming with people confused when they hit the construction areas.
Palmer was quick to credit assistant Chief David Kirby of organizing a traffic plan ahead of Saturday’s festivities.
“We all work together pretty well on this side of the river,” Palmer said. “I think things moved pretty quickly.
“The exit plan probably ruffled some feathers but overall things seemed to go pretty smooth.”
Clarksville police arrested one person for public intoxication and wrote four citations, mostly traffic and parking-related.
“Everybody was just enjoying the day,” Palmer said. “If it wasn’t a record-breaker, I’m sure it was close.”
Clarksville officials typically see paid parking areas on South Clark Street near the former Colgate plant fill up by 7 p.m. on the day of Thunder; however, lots were at capacity by 4 p.m. on Saturday.