Zoeller® Pump Company Pegasus® Parade


The 2024 Zoeller Pump Company Pegasus Parade returns to Broadway in Downtown Louisville on Sunday, April 28. 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 2024 theme is “Celebrating Derby 150” in honor of the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby.

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

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.

Accepting Applications for Participants through January 31, 2024!

The Pegasus Parade application process is FREE and open to all groups to apply. The application process is open through January 31, 2024.

  1. Visit the Pegasus Parade section of the Kentucky Derby Festival website to download or complete your group’s corresponding application. (We have several different categories of units: Floats, Inflatables, Equestrians, Marching Bands or Specialty. If you are unsure of your group’s classification, please contact the Festival for clarification).
  2. Complete the online application in FULL (including photos or videos where requested) to be considered. Use as much detail as possible to describe your unit, and submit before the stated deadline (January 31, 2024 ).
  3. All units must adhere to the Pegasus Parade Participation Guidelines to qualify to participate. Please reference the “Pegasus Parade Guidelines” drop down box above.
  4. Once the application deadline has been reached, all applications will be reviewed by the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Internal Review Committee, as well as our Pegasus Parade Review Committee. All units will be notified of acceptance or denial in mid-February. (Participation in a prior year’s Pegasus Parade does not guarantee acceptance.)
  5. Accepted units will receive a checklist with the necessary documentation required to participate in the upcoming Pegasus Parade. Units must complete and provide all paperwork by the stated deadline (March 31st).
  6. Accepted units are required to fund their own transportation, insurance (can be purchased through KDF for a nominal fee), and all expenses associated with their Pegasus Parade participation, however there is no fee to participate for bands, equestrians and specialty groups.
  7. With approximately 100 units allowed in the parade each year, the Derby Festival cannot accommodate all units who apply. However, units who are not selected for participation in the parade are welcome to contact the Derby Festival for additional opportunities to get involved with the Festival.

The Pegasus Parade is made up of a variety of different types of units. Please see below to determine which type of unit best describes your group before submitting your application.

PLEASE NOTE: For organizations/businesses that are unsure about the correct category when applying (for example, Commercial Units seeking to participate in the parade for advertising purposes), please contact us via this link.



Pegasus Parade Band units are organized high school or college bands. If you have a band unit not affiliated with a high school or college, please apply in the Specialty category (see below).


Equestrian units are any unit comprised of horses. Units are made up of individual riders, horse hitches, multi-horse units, or a mix of walkers and riders.


A specialty unit is any type of unit other than high school or college bands and equestrians. The units are comprised of dance groups, small band units, creative school groups, or any other type of unit you can come up with to represent your organization.


An inflatable is a giant balloon (in a variety of shapes and characters), which can be carried down the parade route by your organization. This crowd favorite features some of your favorite larger-than-life characters. Please note: Only Cold-Air Inflatables permitted.


A parade float is an elaborately decorated 3-D figure or scene, mounted on a wheeled chassis. Parade floats can be self-propelled, towed by vehicles or pulled by animals. The general shape of the float is such that the underlying structure is not visible, and the figure or scene appears to float on the surface.

  1. Completion of this application does not guarantee acceptance. Not all applicants will be selected for participation.  The Parade Committee reserves the right to accept or reject any parade unit application.
  2. Accepted units will be contacted directly and receive a participation packet with required documents, including a Release, Indemnity Agreement. Failure to complete and return the required paperwork by the deadline could result in removal from the parade.
  3. 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 or you may purchase insurance through the Kentucky Derby Festival.
  4. Due to the nature of this event, it is imperative that accepted participants obey ALL rules and guidelines set forth by the Kentucky Derby Festival, Parade Committee and Safety Officials. Failure to follow rules and guidelines will result in immediate removal from the parade.
  5. 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.
  6. Any vehicles that are part of a unit must be 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.
  7. Parade participants are not permitted to distribute ANY candy, pamphlets or other materials along the parade route.
  8. All entries with ANY sounds, sirens, horns, or music and amplifying systems must note that in their application and receive prior approval from the Parade Committee. Accepted units shall maintain a volume that will not interfere with other entries, especially those with animals. Failure to comply could result in removal from the parade.
  9. The Kentucky Derby Festival has its own Royal Court. No outside pageant participants are accepted to participate in the parade unless otherwise approved by the Kentucky Derby Festival and the Parade Committee.
  10. Alcoholic beverages and other controlled substances are not permitted along the parade route or in assembly and dispersal areas. Participants consuming said substances prior to or during the parade will be removed from the line of march.
  11. 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.
  12. Improper use of the American flag is not permitted.
  13. Modifications 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.
  14. The Parade Committee reserves the right to remove any unit from the line of march for any reason or cause without advance notice.

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.

Originally held 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.

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.

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
2019- Black Panther, Spider-Man, Captain America and Black Widow
2020- Parade cancelled
2021- Our Community
2022- Louisville Community
2023 – Secretariat (bronze monument commemorating the 50th anniversary of America’s horse)

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”
2019- “Pegasus Power”
2020- Parade cancelled
2021 -“A Tribute to the Community.”
2022 – “Loving Louisville”
2023 – “Celebrating Derby Traditions”

For questions please contact WanKeith Smiley at (502) 584-3378 or email at wsmiley@kdf.org.