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April 19, 2012

Thunder guide 2012: What to know before you go

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — For Mike Kapfhammer, co-owner of Buckhead Mountain Grill and Rocky’s Sub Pub, this Saturday will be a big event, but nothing he hasn’t handled before.

“We always change up the food every year,” he said.

For the most part, however, the two restaurants will have the same plan in place as they have in years past, as they’re both prime spots for viewing Thunder Over Louisville. The annual fireworks show, kick-off to the Kentucky Derby Festival, is set for this weekend.

For those visiting either restaurant, Kapfhammer said the overwhelming number of comments are about how close they are to the spectacle. This year is even more special as Buckhead just finished up with renovations following a December fire.

“It was important to us to get open, but we would not have rushed it,” he said. “We had 4 1/2 months.”

Those heading to either restaurant have to have a ticket to get in. Kapfhammer said some even order their tickets a year in advance.

“The bulk of it starts right after the first of the year,” he said.

For those not attending a private party like those on restaurant row, the usual procedure will be in place, said Sara Schutz, who has stepped into the role of Jeffersonville’s Thunder Coordinator this year.

As in past years, there is no parking in the event area, residents need passes to get in and there are certain items — weapons, pets, alcohol and more — that are banned.

“There wasn’t a lot left to go after from last year” in terms of planning, Schutz said. “I think we have a pretty good plan. We’ll learn a lot.”

There’s plenty to know before you go, of course. Read on:

THE SHOW

• The air show starts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and fly-bys continue all day. The main event, the 28-minute fireworks show, starts at 9:30 p.m. It’ll be a patriotic one this year, with the theme being “A Star Spangled Blast.” Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer is serving as “Thundernator,” which means the Kentucky native will be detonating the show.

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Permanent lighting is being installed on the handrails of the Big Four Bridge.

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