April 1, 2014. Louisville, KY.   – The McDonald’s Kentucky Derby Festival Preview Party is set for this Thursday, April 3, at the Central American Airways Flying Service hangar at Bowman Field. Sponsored by McDonald’s Restaurants of Kentuckiana, the Thunder Preview Party will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and is a great way to get into the spirit of Thunder a little early.

The event features planes on display, inflatable bounces for kids, coloring t-shirt station, kid toy give away, Helicopter rides ($40), pilot meet and greet, interactive photo booth with different Thunder backdrops, firework display, and the sale of 2014 Kentucky Derby Festival Official Merchandise.  The ninth annual event will also be attended by Thunder Over Louisville crew members, including producer Wayne Hettinger and Air Boss, Mike Riordan. Admission is a 2014 Pegasus Pin or a 2014 McDonald’s Thunder Funder Cup (available at area McDonald’s restaurants).  KentuckyOne Health is Contributing Sponsor of the event.

“The McDonald’s Thunder Funder program is a great opportunity for the community to support Thunder Over Louisville,” said Mike Berry, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO.  “Plus, if you planned a ‘staycation’ for spring break, the McDonald’s Thunder Preview Party is the perfect place to visit. There are activities for kids of all ages.”

The McDonald’s Thunder Funder Program, which helps to provide financial support for Thunder Over Louisville – the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies – kicks off on April 1 and runs through April 29. During that time, 98 area McDonald’s restaurants will donate a portion of their large drink sales revenue to help support Thunder. The promotion coincides with McDonald’s $1.00 drink campaign, with drinks served in a commemorative Thunder Over Louisville cup.

“The Kentucky Derby Festival is a vital piece of the spirit and energy that makes our hometown so special and McDonald’s Restaurants of Kentuckiana is proud to show our support through the Thunder Funder Program,” said Ira Salls, McDonald’s Owner/Operator.  “We are honored to be a part of this fun, family-friendly event.”

Thunder Over Louisville – the Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies – is one of nearly 70 events produced by the Kentucky Derby Festival in the spring. The 2014 Thunder Over Louisville, themed “Throwback Thunder,” is set for Saturday, April 12, and will be the 25th annual production. The show is sponsored by Horseshoe Southern Indiana, KentuckyOne Health, LG&E, Meijer, UPS, and Valero.

Since 1956, the Derby Festival has worked to bring the community together in celebration. The Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.

June 21 - June 21