They know the words to “My Old Kentucky Home,” or at least the first two lines of the first stanza. Of course most of those singing don’t realize that the words they are reading off of the Jumbotron at Churchill Downs are not the original from the Stephen Foster song. While it has been the state song of Kentucky since 1928, it wasn’t until 1986 when someone realized that the word “darkies” might be racially insensitive, so legislation was passed to change the word to “people.”
The middle group of people I know are indifferent. They realize that something is going on in the metropolitan area but they are not exactly sure what it is. They point out that traffic is a little hectic and then you remind them that the Derby is tomorrow and they act surprised. They are a little apprehensive about putting $1 into the office pool because they don’t know anything about horse racing and still seem unsure when you explain you just draw a name from a hat.
Then there is the third group of people. They truly don’t understand what all of the fuss is about. They are actually disgusted by anything that has to do with the Kentucky Derby. They cringe at the thought of drinking a bourbon drink with a leaf sticking out of it.
They try their best to get out of town whenever they hear the airplanes practicing for the Thunder Over Louisville air show. They are proud of the fact they have missed the fireworks display for a perfect 24th straight year.
I fall somewhere in the middle of these groups. I don’t get real excited, but sometimes I enjoy the fun. I have been to Thunder Over Louisville about five times — the last time I went I nearly froze to death with three small children. I found a great seat on the wharf in front of the Belle of Louisville because I was convinced it would be cruising during the show. It turns out it stayed right where it was docked and blocked my view the entire time.