Jonathan Roberts, © Jonathan Roberts
History Of Thunder
What started as a better-than-average fireworks display has become the pinnacle of pyrotechnics. It is the nation’s largest annual fireworks event. It also is one of the top five air shows in the country. Thunder Over Louisville has made a lot of people happy, garnered international attention, entertained millions and given Greater Louisvillians something else to brag about. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of civic-minded companies like Horseshoe Southern Indiana, KentuckyOne Health, LG&E, Meijer, UPS and Valero – Thunder continues to be THE special event that brings the community together like no other celebration. For more history, click here.
This year's Thunder Over Louisville will happen on April 22nd.
Have any questions or concerns about this year's event? Join our Facebook group and let us know.
To some, it’s the official kick-off to the Kentucky Derby Festival. To others, it’s the unofficial beginning of spring. But to all, it’s simply one of the largest annual fireworks shows in North America and the setting for some of the most memorable moments you’ll ever share.
Now in its 27th year, Thunder Over Louisville continues to deliver a pyrotechnics spectacular like no other. Created as the Opening Ceremonies of the Kentucky Derby Festival, it offers an explosive kick-off to three entire weeks of celebration in Louisville, Kentucky and Southern Indiana. With an estimated average attendance of half a million people, it has become the largest annual event in its region. The show continues to be the largest annual pyrotechnics display in North America thanks to the artistry of Zambelli Internationale and the production of Visual Presentations.Click here to learn more about the fireworks.
Thunder Over Louisville will feature one of the nation’s top air shows in the country. As the official Kentucky Derby Festival Opening Ceremonies, Thunder kicks-off the two-week 2017 Festival. After dark, prepare for the Thunder as the 28th annual pyrotechnic spectacular explodes to a sensational soundtrack in front of hundreds of thousands of our friends that come in from all across the country.
The Air Show begins at 2:30 PM.
► North Great Lawn: 9 a.m.
► Chow Wagon: 11 a.m.
► Meijer Family Fun Zone: 11 a.m.
Each location offers FREE admission with a 2017 Pegasus Pin, a Beer Garden, Thunder Sound, and Food Vendors
SOUTH LAWN INTERACTIVE DISPLAYS & KIDS' ACTIVITIES:
Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
► Xperience – on behalf of Ford Motor Co.
► Great Big Idaho Potato
► Active Heroes
► Kentucky National Guard
► U.S. Air Force Flight Simulator
► U.S. Army Display featuring static Blackhawk
► U.S. Marines Chin Up Challenge
► Moon Bounce Obstacle Course
► Rock Wall
► Super Slide Typhoon
► Ali-Baba Magic Carpet
► Lil Scrambler
► Hampton Car Ride
► Charlie Chopper
► Ships Ahoy
Saturday, April 22, 2017 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Admission is FREE with a 2017 Pegasus Pin. Free kids' activities including bound houses, face painting, photo opportunities, and Big Red Chair. Sampling of snacks and great view of the show.
Fanzone Interactive Display: Sign up for Meijer's mPerks and receive a FREE Meijer Tote!
This year's Pegasus Pins are now on sale at dozens of locations on both sides of the River.
“You can win shopping sprees, gift cards, travel certificates, even a free Lasik procedure. So there are a lot of different prizes you can win,” Aimee Boyd said.
This year when you buy a pin, you can enter weekly drawings with more than $2,500 worth of prizes.
Kentucky Derby Festival
WHERE TO PURCHASE YOUR PIN:
► A Reader’s Corner
► A Taste of Kentucky
► Adrienne & Company
► Airport Shell Gas Station
► * American Founders Bank
► * B B & T
► Bader’s Food Mart
► Bae Systems
► * Beacon Community Credit Union
► Belle of Louisville
► Biff’s Gun World
► Brownsboro Hardware
► * Central Bank
► Coca Cola North America
► Courtyard Downtown
► Cox’s Variety
► Curtis Market
► DB Bourbon Candy
► Derby Dinner Playhouse
► Discount Labels
► Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
► * Fifth Third Bank
► Forcht Bank
► * Frank Otte Nursery
► *Gray’s College Bookstore
► Greater Friendship Church
► Kentucky Derby Museum
► Kentucky Science Center Gift Shop
► Knights of Columbus
► * Kroger
► L & N Federal Credit Union
► * Liquor Barn
► Louisville Visitors Center
► Nearly New Shop
► * Park Community Federal Credit Union
► Party Mart
► R.H. Clarkson Insurance Co.
► * Republic Bank
► Residence Inn Downtown
► Revelry Boutique Gallery
► * Rite Aid
► River City Bank
► * Save Rite
► Southern Indiana Visitor Center
► Southside Pic-PacPic-Pac
► Stock Yards Bank
► * ThorntonsThorntons
► Total Wine & Spirits
► Turning Heads Salon
► * ValuMarket
► Watts Food Mart
* NOT AT ALL LOCATIONS/BRANCHES
This applies to ALL viewing areas within the Thunder Over Louisville venue on the Kentucky side – which goes south from the Ohio River to Main Street between Clay Street and 10th Street and includes Thunder Chow Wagon, Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere and North Great Lawn viewing area.
► No Drones – The FAA has established a no-fly zone around the Thunder venue. Unmanned aircraft, such as drones, won’t be allowed within 5 miles. Any drones on site could shut down the air show. Violators face confiscation and up to an $11,000 fine. This will be strictly enforced.
► No Tents or Canopies of any kind will be allowed within Waterfront Park. Structures of ANY kind will be required to be taken down. This will be strictly enforced.
► No taping or roping off of larges areas will be allowed. This will be strictly enforced throughout the Thunder venue.
► No overnight camping allowed in Waterfront Park or the overall event area. Waterfront Park officially closes at 11PM on Friday Night and will open at 9 AM on Saturday morning.
► No glass bottles are allowed at the event site. Plastic containers, cans and food are permitted. There are food and soft drink stands throughout the venue to take care of any needs you may have. Beer is also available at the Chow Wagon at Waterfront Park, North Great Lawn and Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere.
► No alcoholic beverages are allowed.
► No grills are allowed within the Thunder venue.
► No bikes, skateboards or skates are allowed in the event venue. You will be asked to walk them in for pedestrian safety. If you ride your bike to Thunder, please bring a lock and use the bike parking available at Bingham Way and Witherspoon Street, the corner of Preston and Witherspoon Streets and the base of the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge (on both sides of the river).
►Please leave any pets at home.
►A picnic blanket or tarp (limited to 10’x10′) and lawn chairs are allowed inside the Thunder venue (including the North Great Lawn viewing area).
FOOD or DRINK is permitted in the North Great Lawn viewing area, Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere, and other areas of the Thunder venue.
All persons and parcels are subject to search.
1. Pick-up the Official Thunder Program in The Courier-Journal Saturday, April 23rd – it has a Thunder map and full airshow schedule.
2. Wear your Pegasus Pin. Show your support for the Festival, plus you’ll need it for the Thunder Chow Wagon, Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere and North Great Lawn viewing area.
3. Park as far away from event venue as you can comfortably walk. Refer to the LMPD Traffic Plan to help choose the best place to park and exit route.
4. Dress in layers. The temperature can vary a great deal throughout the day. Bring sunglasses & sunscreen.
5. Know your limits and your children’s limits for the day. Seven hours can be a long day for toddlers. Consider picking air show OR fireworks.
6. Bring a roll of toilet paper (Thunder Pots can run out!)
7. Please do NOT bring pets, tents or materials to rope off/section off areas of the venue.
8. You can bring food and drink to the venue (except in the Thunder Chow Wagon). Vending is also available throughout the venue. (All parcels subject to search.)
9. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings AND be aware of the services around you…EMS, Lost Child Stations, General First Aid.
10. Make sure your car has plenty of gas for the exit traffic delays.
THUNDER FIRST AID/LOST CHILD STATIONS
► Thunder Station 1. West Wharf in Joes Crabshack Parking Lot
► Thunder Station 2. Waterfront Park in South Great Lawn (south west corner of lawn)
► Thunder Station 3. Waterfront Park in North Great Lawn (South center)
► Thunder Station 4. Waterfront Park in Orange Parking Lot (near EMS compound)
► Thunder Station 5. Waterfront Park in Lincoln Lot (near JCSO compound)
► Thunder Station 6. Clarksville in Ashland Park near entrance of Park
► Thunder Station 7. Jeffersonville at base of Big 4 Bridge
OTHER HELPFUL HINTS:
► Designate a driver if you plan on drinking in the only beer-vending areas of the event: Thunder Chow Wagon at Waterfront Park, Meijer Family Fun Zone on the West Belvedere, North Great Lawn and the Red Lot near the Big Four Bridge.
► Identify a location to regroup should you lose any in your party.
► Bring your patience. This is not an event for the crowd-shy. Remember the event is for fun – try to have some!
► Don’t count on cell phones working 100% that day. With that many folks and signals service can be unreliable.
► Know what your children are wearing and carry a photo of them with you. Make sure they know to find a police officer and know your phone number and address. Lost Child Stations are set-up throughout the venue at all First Aid Stations.
If you plan to bring young children (toddlers and infants) to the venue, bring ear plugs for them. The loud noises from the air show and fireworks frighten some children. Plus, it will help protect their tiny ear drums.
► Entertain restless children in the kid’s interactive areas or playgrounds in Waterfront Park and along River Road.
► Thunder Wear (official Thunder merchandise) can be found in several locations. If you plan on buying a poster, wait until later in the day to keep it from getting damaged.
► You can tune into the Command Center and complete air show commentary on 106.9 PLAY.
► NO-NO’S – Keep glass bottles, grills, tents, stakes, pennant lines, caution tape, alcohol, skates and pets at home.
© 2017 WHAS-TV