Saturday, May 4, 2013

Run for the Roses

Today is the 1st Saturday of May.  It's a national holiday~if you are from Louisville, KY, that is.  It's Derby Day.  The day it feels like the whole world comes to my town.  I used to say that I didn't go to the Derby, it came to me.  Growing up, we lived so close to Churchill Downs that we could sit on our back porch and hear the start of the races...the music, the horns, the callers.  Because of the enormous amount of traffic due to Oaks Day and everyone coming in for Derby Day, the school system always schedules school off for the Friday before.  It was such an exciting time. 

Mom and Dad would allow us to park cars in our backyard that Friday and Saturday to make a little spending money for ourselves.  As a family, we would always go to my grandmother's house, who lived even closer.  Aunts, Uncles, cousins...everyone showed up with all kinds of food.  We would walk to Central Avenue, crowded with people, cars, and limousines filled with movie stars and mysterious people inside the black tinted windows. With our spending money burning a hole in our pockets, we just had to check out all the vendors selling their sunglasses, t-shirts, and feathered roach clips that we wore in our hair.  (Had NO idea what they were really for, lol!)  We all made sure to be back in time to gather around the t.v. to watch the Run for the Roses, then immediately head out to sit on the grassy spot across from the Downs and watch all the people leaving.  You could always tell who won, who didn't, and who was too drunk to care.  People watching at its finest hour.  We never actually went to the Derby.  My parents didn't really think it was a place for children.  (They were right!!)  My dad did sneak take my brother and I once, to see a race or two after the Run for the Roses was over.  By then, most of the crowds were dissipating. 

I will always look back on those days with the fondest of memories.  Until I grew up and moved away, I just assumed everyone around the world stopped to celebrate Derby Day.  It was exciting.  It was electric.  It was, (and still is to those of us from there,) a national holiday. 

So wherever you are...Happy Derby Day!!!!!