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April 15, 2013

Thunder, Derby events to go on

Organizers say events will take place as planned

LOUISVILLE —

In the wake of the explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon, which left at least two dead and dozens injured, officials with the Kentucky Derby Festival said its events will go on as planned.

Mike Berry, chief executive officer and president of the nonprofit Kentucky Derby Festival, said nothing will be canceled, according to an Associate Press report. The festival puts on 70 events around the Kentucky Derby, including the massive Thunder Over Louisville air and fireworks show set for Saturday.

Officials with the Kentucky Derby Festival said for now, plans will remain the same and planners will follow the recommendations of law enforcement as to how to ensure safety at the events.

“We work with them very closely to coordinate all of our emergency action plans,” said Kentucky Derby Festival Spokesperson Aimee Boyd. “We are always working to make changes and improvements ... . [We] already have extraordinary plans in place [and] we are already on heightened awareness because Thunder is such a large event.”

Boyd said the festival organizers work with the Department of Homeland Security, state and local law enforcement officials to develop security and emergency plans for the Derby Festival events.

“We have very comprehensive plans in place,” said Matt Gibson, vice president of events for the Kentucky Derby Festival, at an impromptu news conference Monday afternoon. “Obviously, the larger the crowd the larger the concern.”

Thunder Over Louis- ville, which is just five days away and one of the region’s largest events, expects to draw crowds of between 500,000 and 700,000. Large crowds are also expected for the Kentucky Derby Marathon and mini marathon Saturday, April 27. Officials said the race will draw about 17,000 runners and as many as 40,000 spectators, depending on the weather.

The Kentucky Derby itself drew more than 165,000 spectators last year. The Kentucky Derby will be held on Saturday, May 4.

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