April 22, 2017. Louisville, KY.  – A day that started with less than ideal weather conditions, ended in a bang with the 2017 Thunder Over Louisville. 250,000-300,000 fans braved the elements for this year’s Kentucky Derby Festival Opening Ceremonies. Thanks to the generous support of the event’s corporate sponsors – Horseshoe Southern Indiana, LG&E, Meijer, UPS and Valero, – this year’s show featured a stellar lineup of civilian and military aircraft, as well as the traditional pyrotechnic spectacle.

“It was another spectacular kick-off for the Kentucky Derby Festival,” said Mike Berry, KDF President & CEO. “Whether you were down on the waterfront or watching from home, we were celebrating this special time in our community together and that’s what the Festival is all about.”

The air show battled some low cloud ceilings and wind conditions at the start of the show, but conditions improved throughout the day. Nearly every aircraft performed and wowed the crowd with a mix of from old and new planes to single ship aerobatic and multi-ship aerobatic. Featuring a salute to the 70th Anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, the F-35 Lightning II Stealth Fighter made its first-ever Thunder appearance. The U.S. Army Golden Knights, who last performed in 2015, returned to the show with both a daytime and nighttime performance. An F-86 Fighter Jet celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the 123rd Kentucky Air National Guard and the B-25 Bomber commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid both performed, along with Billy Werth, Matt Younkin’s Twin Beech 18, Lima Lima and many others.

This year’s fireworks show was choreographed to an original soundtrack featuring local musicians from both Kentucky and Indiana, as well as the Louisville Orchestra. Some of the Orchestra recordings were previously unreleased, heard for the first time at Thunder. The Orchestra’s Music Director, Teddy Abrams, collaborated with the Derby Festival and the show’s producer, Wayne Hettinger, in selecting songs for the soundtrack.

“The diversity of music locally and around Kentuckiana is exceptional and that’s something to be proud of,” said Teddy Abrams, Louisville Orchestra Music Director. “It wasn’t easy to take a four-hour play list and narrow it down to 30 minutes for the fireworks show.”

“We try to fill every Thunder show with a little something for everyone, and this year’s was no different,” Says Wayne Hettinger, Thunder Show Producer. “Now the countdown is set for 2018.”

Serving as the official “Thundernator” for the 2017 Thunder Over Louisville fireworks show was “Festival Fanatic” winner Mary Hager of Brandenburg, KY. Hager won the opportunity to be Thundernator through a special second chance promotion sponsored by the Kentucky Lottery.

Thunder Over Louisville – the Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies – is one of the more than seventy events produced by the Derby Festival in the spring. The 2017 Thunder Over Louisville is set for Saturday, April 22. Sponsors: Horseshoe Southern Indiana, LG&E, Meijer, UPS, and Valero. Thunder on the Ground Sponsor:  Ford Motor Company.  Official Sound Sponsor: CareSource. Official Broadcast Partners: WHAS TV and 106.9 PLAY.

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.