May 5, 2016. Louisville, KY. – The skies cleared just in time for the 61st Republic Bank Pegasus Parade to march down Broadway this evening. A crowd estimated at over 100,000 gathered downtown to watch the Kentucky Derby Festival’s oldest and inaugural event. Themed ‘Fun for the Arts,’ this year’s parade celebrated all those groups who bring the arts to Louisville.
“The arts and the Derby Festival go hand-in-hand in helping to form the cultural fabric of our community,” said Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO Mike Berry. “This was 2016’s biggest show on Louisville’s Broadway!”
This year’s parade featured over 100 units, including 11 floats, 15 equestrian units, 9 inflatables, 10 marching bands, 2 push floats and 31 specialty units.
Kentucky’s own Jordan Smith, winner of season 9 of The Voice and Republic Records recording artist, served as Grand Marshal of the 2016 Republic Bank Pegasus Parade. He was joined by Honorary Grand Marshals – University of Louisville Seniors Damion Lee and Trey Lewis – fan favorites on the Men’s Basketball Team.
Other guests included: Actor Will Chase of ABC’s hit show “Nashville” (born in Frankfort, KY); Adriana Madix, Tom Sandoval, Brittany Cartwright and Jax Taylor of Bravo TV’s “Vanderpump Rules”; Monte Durham of TLC’s “Say Yes To The Dress: ATL”; Ray J & Princess Love from VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood; Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell; Miss Kentucky 2015 Clark Davis; and Star Jones – Business Exec, Attorney, Best Selling Author and TV personality.
Several of the units received awards for their participation. CenterStage at the Jewish Community Center took home the Addison McGhee Grand Champion Award for best overall float; Hwang’s Martial Arts won the 2nd Place KDF Board Chair’s Award; Norton Healthcare won the 3rd Place KDF President’s Award; Second Chance @ Life won the Grand Marshal’s Award for best representation of the theme; Grand Lodge of Kentucky, Free & Accepted Masons, won the Queen’s Award for overall beauty, and Metro Parks & Recreation won the KDF Parade Chairman’s Award for the most spirit. Kosair Charities, Belle of Louisville, and Kentuckiana Pride Festival received Honorable Mention Awards.
Over 20,000 votes were cast in the People’s Choice online voting competition. Second Chance @ Life won the People’s Choice Float Award and Stage One’s “Dragon” won the People’s Choice Inflatable Award.
The parade is known for its beautiful equestrian units. The Grand Champion Award for the Best Equestrian Unit went to Wells Fargo Stage Coach. The first place award for Best Mounted Equestrian Unit went to Jansal Saddlebreds. Best Non-Commercial Driven Unit was awarded to Midstates Mule & Donkey Society. The Jefferson County All Star Band won the Grand Prize in the Basil Caummisar Battle of the Bands competition. Kosair Shriner Units won the Ray Wimberg Specialty Unit Award, LG&E’s “Louie the Lightning Bug” won the Earl Ruby Inflatable Spirit Award and Meadow Reflections Farm won the Pooper Stars Award.
The Pegasus Parade – the Kentucky Derby Festival’s founding event – is one of nearly 70 events produced by the Kentucky Derby Festival in the spring. The first parade was organized by just a handful of volunteers in 1956 on a budget of $640. It provides an estimated impact of $22 million to the area’s economy.