Pegasus® Parade


The Kentucky Derby Festival recognizes the importance of public health and safety – it is always the Derby Festival’s top priority and we appreciate everything that is being done for all of us. That is why out of an abundance of caution, we will not be able to host the Pegasus Parade this year, but we’ll be seeing you again in 2021!

The participants and partners on this event have been contacted via email.



The 2020 Pegasus Parade will march down Broadway on Thursday, April 30. This family-friendly annual event showcases some of the nation’s finest marching bands and equestrian units, along with inflatable characters and colorful floats.

The parade marches west on Broadway for 17 blocks and lasts approximately two hours.

Over the years, the Pegasus Parade has featured a wide variety of celebrities, including Grand Marshals such as Muhammad Ali, John Wayne, Loretta Lynn, William Shatner, Bill Monroe, Diane Sawyer, Colonel Harland Sanders, Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and the 2013 University of Louisville Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams.

Originating in 1956 on a budget of only $640, the Pegasus Parade is the Kentucky Derby Festival’s oldest event. Today, the Pegasus Parade is one of the largest in the country, contributing an estimated impact of more than $22 million to the local economy.

  1. By completing an application to participate in the Pegasus Parade, you understand that not all applicants will be selected for participation.
  2. The Parade Committee reserves the right to accept or reject any parade unit application.
  3. The application serves as a waiver of release for your organization.  By submitting the application, you are thus agreeing to the terms therein.
  4. All participants are required to sign a Release, Indemnity Agreement or they won’t be allowed to participate in the parade.  All required forms must be received at the Kentucky Derby Festival office by March 20, 2020. Failure to return the required paperwork by the deadline may be cause for removal from the Parade.
  5. All accepted organizations must provide a certificate of insurance naming the Kentucky Derby Festival as additional insured with your organization.  Your organization assumes responsibility for your participants.  You can obtain this insurance from your general liability carrier.  You may also purchase insurance through the Kentucky Derby Festival.
  6. Parade participants are not allowed to distribute candy, pamphlets or other materials along the parade route.
  7. Baby strollers and children’s wagons are not allowed in the line of march with units.
  8. Children under the age of 14 MUST be accompanied and supervised by an adult at all times.  Children under the age of 8 aren’t permitted to participate.
  9. No vehicles are allowed on the parade route with participating units unless approved by the Parade Committee.  All drivers must be at least 18 years of age and possess a valid driver’s license.  All vehicles must have valid insurance.
  10. Support vehicles will not be allowed in the parade.
  11. All entries having music or sound amplifying systems shall maintain a volume that will not interfere with other entries, especially those with animals.  If a unit is informed by a Parade official that the noise generated by their unit is too loud; they shall immediately turn the volume down.
  12. No sirens, horns or loud noises are permitted.
  13. The Kentucky Derby Festival has its own Royal Court.  No outside pageant participants are accepted to participate in the parade unless otherwise requested by the Parade Committee.
  14. Parade participants must keep pace with the line of march.  All units must maintain forward motion during the parade.  No counter marching or other maneuvers contrary to the forward progress of the parade are allowed.  Gaps are not allowed to occur.
  15. Parade units are NOT to stop in the television zone.  Keep forward motion at all times.
  16. Parade units must follow instructions from the Parade Committee, Police Officers and the Kentucky Derby Festival staff.  Failure to follow instructions will result in immediate removal from the parade line up.
  17. Alcoholic beverages and other controlled substances are forbidden on and along the parade route.  This includes all assembling and dispersal areas.  Participants consuming said substances prior to or during the parade will not be allowed to participate and will be removed from the line of march.
  18. Kentucky Derby Festival prohibits any display of commercial, political, religious or issue related advertising on or by any person, unit or part of a unit in the parade, with the exception of pre-approved units with commercial logos, and Festival permit-fee-paid, commercial units.
  19. Improper use of the American flag is not permitted.
  20. Any additions or changes made to parade units after being accepted must be approved by the Parade Committee.  Parade units with changes that have not been approved will not be allowed in the line of march.
  21. The Parade Committee reserves the right to remove any unit from the line of march for any reason or cause without advance notice.
  22. The Parade will take place rain or shine.

In 1956, the Pegasus Parade® was the first event held by the Kentucky Derby Festival®. With four volunteers and a budget of $640, the parade excited Louisvillians and their guests with floats, inflatables, marching bands, equestrian units, and celebrities traveling down Broadway. It was the start of a tradition that has become the cornerstone on which a festival was built.

Held each year on the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby, the Pegasus Parade showcases the community at its best. With dogwoods and tulips in full bloom, the stage is set on downtown’s main thoroughfare for one of the country’s largest and most entertaining spectacles.

Among the most spectacular units are the larger-than-life floats. Many are built by the employees or volunteers of the sponsoring groups, who take the awards competition very seriously. The result is one of the most animated, colorful displays in the country. In addition, some of the nation’s best high school bands blow the lines off the street with lively music. A staple of any parade in the Bluegrass state, beautiful equestrian units add more color and excitement. Giant inflatable character balloons, clowns and celebrities round out the mix of this annual rite of spring.

Highlights over the years have included the appearance of a Duke and a General. Hollywood stars such as John Wayne, Michael Landon, Lorne Greene and William Shatner have served as Grand Marshals of the parade.

Entertainers from Carol Channing and Liberace to Gladys Knight and Loretta Lynn have graced the route. And, of course, hometown heroes like Muhammad Ali and Colonel Harland Sanders have been favorites. Perhaps the most crowning achievement was the moving inclusion of General Norman Schwarzkopf in his first public appearance in the U.S. at the conclusion of the Gulf War.

The celebrities and heroes make for exciting additions to the annual march. Yet the real magic in the Pegasus Parade is in the faces of the thousands of participants and spectators who converge to make this annual rite of spring come to life each year. The grins on kids from ages 2 to 92 tell that story best.

The Parade marches west on Broadway from Campbell Street to Ninth Street. The parade steps off at 5 pm.

Now one of the Festival’s largest spectator events, the parade has a tremendous impact on the economy. It generates $14 million in economic activity annually. More than 500 volunteers help staff the two-hour production that includes and average of 2500 participants each year. The magical parade attracts crowds in excess of 200,000 along the 1.7-mile route.

The event has been broadcast live locally on NBC affiliate WAVE 3 TV since 1982. Willard Scott of NBC’s Today Show served as master of ceremonies from 1982-2005. The local broadcast brings the Parade an additional 200,000 viewers annually. The broadcast is aired again on Derby Day.

Parade enthusiasts can also get up close & personal with the floats and giant balloons just days before the Parade steps off. They can sneak a peek during the Parade Preview held the Tuesday before the parade. The Kentucky International Convention Center explodes with larger-than-life animation. Each float is displayed in all its splendor complete with dancing costumed characters. In addition, a taste of the entire parade is offered in this indoor carnival-like setting for more than 10,000 parade fans. Equestrian units, marching bands, large inflatable character balloons and the Royal court are on hand to give spectators an “inside” view of the parade.

Click here for a video from the first Pegasus Parade.

1956- Tom Young, Superintendent of Churchill Downs
1957- Maj. Gen. John L. Ryan
1958- Dr. Phillip Davidson
1959- Maj. Gen. W. Paul Johnson
1960- Raymond Burr
1961- Dwayne Hickman
1962- Maj. Gen. J. E. Bastion
1963- Michael Landon
1964- Joe E. Brown, Edie Adams, Liberace
1965- Alan Hale, Jr.
1966- Robert Conrad
1967- Dale Robertson (Parade cancelled)
1968- Jimmy Ellis
1969- Fess Parker
1970- Peter Graves
1971- Ed Asner
1972- Lorne Greene
1973- Rod Steiger
1974- Lynn Stone
1975- Joe B. Hall, Denny Crum
1976- John Wayne
1977- Col. Harland Sanders
1978- Foster Brooks
1979- Phyllis George
1980- Darrell Griffith, Kyle Macy
1981- Muhammad Ali
1982- Gov. A. B. “Happy” Chandler
1983- Bill Monroe
1984- Diane Sawyer
1985- Rosemary Clooney
1986- Ricky Skaggs
1987- Ned Beatty
1988- Annie Potts
1989- Danny Sullivan
1990- John Forsythe
1991- Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf
1992- William Shatner
1993- Gladys Knight
1994- Willard Scott
1995- Pat Day, Terry Wilcutt
1996- Coach Rick Pitino
1997- Capt. Scott O’Grady
1998- Gloria Stuart
1999- Loretta Lynn
2000- Tori Murden-McClure & Miss America Heather Renee French
2001- Buzz Aldrin & Denny Crum
2002- Winter Olympic Bronze Medalists: U.S. Bobsled Team
2003- Little League World Series Champions: Valley Sports American
2004- Cathy Guisewite: Creator of “Cathy” comic strip
2005- Chubby Checker
2006- Muhammad Ali
2007- Mickey Mouse (Grand Magician: Mac King)
2008- Bobby Flay (Honorary Grand Marshal: Patrick Henry Hughes)
2009- Professional golfer Kenny Perry and his father, Ken
2010- Diane Lane and Penny Chenery
2011- Congressional Medal of Honor recipients: World War II veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams of West Virginia; Korean War veteran Ernie West of Russell, Ky.; Vietnam War veteran Gary Littrell of Henderson, Ky; and Vietnam War veteran Don Jenkins of Quality, Ky. (Honorary Grand Marshals: Bellarmine University’s NCAA Division II men’s national champion basketball team)
2012- Cyndi Lauper
2013- University of Louisville Men’s & Women’s Basketball Teams
2014- Jeff Corwin & Josh Hopkins
2015- Teddy Bridgewater
2016- Jordan Smith
2017- Dolvett Quince
2018- Joe B. Hall and Denny Crum

1956- “Pegasus Parade”
1957- “Famous Horses”
1958- “This Is Kentucky”
1959- “Famous Songs”
1960- “Famous Firsts”
1961- “Civil War Centennial”
1962- “Our American Heritage”
1963- “Great Adventures”
1964- “Happy Holidays”
1965- “Fairy Tales – Nursery Rhymes”
1966- “Festival Days ‘Round The World”
1967- Parade cancelled
1968- “Great Moments In American History”
1969- “The Wonderful World Of Music”
1970- “Rediscover America”
1971- “America The Beautiful”
1972- “Broadway On Parade”
1973- “Great Books”
1974- “Remember The Year”
1975- “The Land Of Make-Believe”
1976- “The American Dream”
1977- “A Child’s Dream”
1978- “Leisure Time”
1979- “World Of Entertainment”
1980- “Silver Celebration”
1981- “A Parade Of Festivals”
1982- “America, Kentucky-Style”
1983- “Springtime Magic”
1984- “America’s Tradition – Hometown USA”
1985- “The Magic Of Make-Believe”
1986- “The Whole World’s Getting Together”
1987- “Reflections of America”
1988- “Headed For The Future”
1989- “Festival: A Magic Moment In Time”
1990- “Festival: 35th Celebration”
1991- “Kentucky Derby Festival: Vision Of The ’90s”
1992- “Celebrate Kentucky”
1993- “All for Fun, Fun for All!!”
1994- “Forever Young”
1995- “Magical Visions…Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow!”
1996- “Through a Child’s Eyes”
1997- “Frontiers Across the Centuries”
1998- “Hollywood on Broadway”
1999- “Music. . . That’s Entertainment”
2000- “Crowning Achievements”
2001- “A Galaxy of Fun”
2002- “Thrill of the Game”
2003- “The Spirit of Adventure”
2004- “Broadway Toon Town”
2005- “Rockin @ 50”
2006- “Once Upon A Toy”
2007- “Wonders, Wizards and Wands”
2008- “A World of Possibilities”
2009- “Destinations & Discoveries”
2010- “Spring Fever Reliever”
2011- “Heroic Adventures”
2012- “Family, Fun & Games”
2013- “Now That’s Entertainment”
2014- “Call of the Wild”
2015- “Best of Louisville”
2016- “Fun for the Arts”
2017- “Louisville on the Move”
2018- “#ThrowbackThursday”

Pegasus Parade FAQs

Q. When does the parade take place?
A. Thursday before the Kentucky Derby.  In 2019, the parade will take place on Thursday, April 30th.


Q. What time does the parade start?
A. 5:00PM EST


Q. Where does the parade take place?
A. Broadway Street in downtown Louisville.  The parade heads West on Broadway starting at Campbell Street and concluding at 9th Street.  The parade route is 1.7 miles long.


Q. What time should I get to the parade?
A. We recommend that you arrive early to get a good spot.  The parade steps off at 5:00PM, so you don’t want to miss anything!


Q. We are not going to be able to make it down to the parade; can we see it on TV?
A. Of course!  You can watch all of the action live on WAVE3 starting at 5:30PM.


Q. What can I expect to see at the parade?
A.  Giant helium balloons of recognized characters, spectacular floats, marching bands, exquisite equestrian units, local and national celebrities and exciting performance groups.


Q. I’d like help out with the parade; are there volunteer opportunities available?
A. Yes, we are always looking for volunteers and have plenty roles to fill.  Please contact Catherine Vish at for volunteer opportunities.


Q. My organization would like to participate in the parade, how do I register?
A. Registration is open from October to January 31.  Please visit and search ‘Pegasus Parade’ to download the application.  Applicants will be notified the beginning of February on acceptance or denial.


Q. What is the theme of this year’s parade?


For additional questions please contact Catherine Vish at (502) 572-3853,

For questions please contact Catherine Vish at (502) 572-3378 or email at