April 23, 2016– LOUISVILLE, KY – Blue skies, warm weather and a packed show added up to the second largest crowd in the 27 year history of Thunder Over Louisville – the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies. An estimated at 725,000 spectators lined both sides of the Ohio River tonight. The North Great Lawn even reached capacity late in the day. With the river in its banks, over 100 boats were also anchored on the Ohio River for the show.
Themed, “No Strings Attached,” one of the highlights included an original fireworks soundtrack recorded by the Louisville Orchestra, under the direction of Teddy Abrams. Fans heard excerpts from over 40 well-known works by composers like Holst, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Mozart, as well as My Morning Jacket, Katy Perry and Michael Jackson.
“The soundtrack covered 400 years of music,” said Teddy Abrams, Music Director with the Louisville Orchestra. “The collaboration was a dream come true. The Louisville Orchestra is for the community and the whole community is right here at Thunder.”
“This was definitely one for the books,” said Mike Berry, KDF President & CEO. “We couldn’t have asked for a better kick-off to this year’s Kentucky Derby Festival.”
“And, that’s why they call it Thunder!” said Michael Richards, Director of Fireworks, after one of the largest and loudest finales in the shows history.
Before the fireworks, the air show was packed with both military and civilian air acts. The U.S. Navy Parachute Team – the Leap Frogs – opened the show. Acts from other branches of the military also performed including the Kentucky Air National Guard with their C-130, the U.S. Coast Guard, with their rescue demonstration on the Ohio and the U.S. Navy’s F-18 Tac Demo. Other fan favorites featured in this year’s line-up include Lima Lima, Billy Werth and the Trojan Horseman T-28 demo team, among others. The air show also included a Missing Man Tribute to the late Jay “Flash” Gordon, a long time participant in the show and member of the Thunder Crew. The tribute included the largest number of aircraft ever in the sky at one time at Thunder.
Serving as the official “Thundernator” for the 2016 Thunder Over Louisville fireworks show was “Festival Fanatic” winner Pat Kemper of Louisville. Kemper won the opportunity to be Thundernator through a special second chance promotion sponsored by the Kentucky Lottery.
“It was a picture perfect day, “aid Thunder show producer, Wayne Hettinger. “This was the best forecast we’ve had in a while. We didn’t miss a cue all day and you could hear the crowd cheering all the up hear on the 24th floor.”
This year’s show is sponsored by Horseshoe Southern Indiana, KentuckyOne Health, LG&E, Meijer, UPS, and Valero. Thunder on the Ground is sponsored by Ford’s Motor Company. Caresource is the Official Sound Sponsor. Official Broadcast Partners of this year’s show were WDRB TV and SummitMedia’s 106.9 PLAY.
Thunder Over Louisville – the Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies – is one of nearly 70 events produced by the Derby Festival in the spring. The 2016 Thunder Over Louisville, themed “No Strings Attached,” is set for Saturday, April 23, and will be the will be the 27th annual production.