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Gary Roedemeier reflects on 'Thunder' return

Gary Roedemeier reflects on 'Thunder' return

by Gary Roedemeier

Posted on April 21, 2013 at 8:17 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- I had forgotten how spectacular Thunder Over Louisville is "in person."

2009 was the last time I worked the television broadcast until yesterday and it was a stunning revival.

And for the first time I was assigned to the Thunder Command Center, the center of the action and a spectacular view of the air show.

The 24th floor of the Galt House is like a family reunion with a constant stream of house guests who get a few moments to view the nerve center of the giant waterfront show.

I was immediately welcomed into the family. My anonymous press pass was discarded and I was given a personalized pass with my nickname "Roedy" on the bottom.

Thunder producer Wayne Hettinger then briefed me on his yearlong efforts to produce a quality air show without military aircraft. He started contacting civilian air acts at a convention last December and brought in some of the best aerial acts the Louisville waterfront has ever seen.

One of the biplane routines was so wild, that I thought the pilot was going to fly under the bridge instead of over it.  Sure, the civilian planes were not as noisy as the after burner from an F-18, but the pilots had their planes and our heads spinning.

My afternoon in the Command Center once again proved to me that Louisville is a cordial and friendly city. The Thunder workers could not do enough to greet the visitors and give them a glimpse of the countdown to twilight.

It is a special show put on by special people. Maybe that's why it endures.

I went back to my traditional spot on the Belvedere to watch the fireworks, and while, trying to name all the TV theme songs in the soundtrack, Melissa Swan said, "I'd forgotten how good this is." It was good. And about to get better!

After 20 minutes we cheered the false finale, and then welcomed the Colonel Bogey march that meant more was to come. Finally, the old Belvedere would shake under the concussion of another Zambelli finish.

Then, as Louisvillians, we all turned and walked politely to our cars and endured the slow ride home.

But it was worth it. From the top of the Galt, to the last blast from the barges, I had lived and felt the Thunder.

If you haven't had that feeling in a few years, it is time to do it again.

From both sides of the river, we become one community in the glow of the Derby Festival.

Let the Thunder Roll.