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April 21, 2013

Thunder tradition: Kentucky Derby Festival kickoff and annual rite of spring lights up Kentuckiana

> SOUTHERN INDIANA —

Sunny skies and early brisk temperatures greeted the fans of the annual kickoff to the Kentucky Derby Festival as they lined up along the banks of the Ohio River.

For the 24th time Thunder Over Louisville drew thousands to the region for the annual air show and fireworks display.

Crowds of between 500,000 and 700,000 were expected to descend on Louisville, Jeffersonville and Clarksville for Thunder Over Louisville, but for the second year in a row they were late to arrive.

Sgt. Jerry Goodin said it was a slow start with the cold morning and expected crowds to pour into the area later in the day. He added, as of about 1 p.m., that there had been no issues with security or the crowds.

Jeffersonville Police Department Det. Todd Hollis also said there had not been any significant issues with the people coming into the area to view the air show and fireworks.

“A lot of prep work went into today,” he said. “There’s a lot of traffic coming in.”

 

KEEPING THE TRADITION

But some followed their normal routine for Thunder Over Louisville.

New Albany resident LaTonya Crutcher said she, along with some family and friends, arrived to their spot in Jeffersonville — next to the Terrace Lawn — at about 10 a.m. 

She said they come to the same spot every year at the same time, and enjoys the family atmosphere of the event.

“I love Thunder. I love Derby. This has been a tradition for the last five years,” Crutcher said. 

She added that she was not deterred from coming this year with a smaller air show, nor was she worried about threats to her safety.

“Whatever’s going on in the world, it doesn’t mean we need to live in fear,” Crutcher said.

Deon Alford, who was camped out with the group, said that he was glad that despite being smaller, the air show was still being held.

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The Rev. Eric Johnson, New Albany, is accompanied by Shea, right, and Sammy Taylor, both of Memphis, during the cross procession at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church's Good Friday service in New Albany on Friday afternoon.

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