My dad, my aunt, and my cousin went to the Oaks. My dad made their hats, and my cousin's got featured on the local news' facebook page! I think it's really pretty.
My family has a few Derby traditions. For as long as I can remember, we've celebrated my birthday with my dad's family on Derby day, since my birthday is just a few days or a week after that (the Derby is held on the first Saturday in May every year.) Mammaw usually grills burgers and I get to pick dessert. This year I asked for Coke cake, because I am now old enough and wise enough to realize that it is a thousand times better than a giant cookie with my name on it from the mall (cookies are still good, but really, you can't beat Coke cake.) Then we watch the race. We draw names for the horses for a dollar, which is funny because my family is basically all Southern Baptists, and they don't usually go for gambling. My mom won the jackpot this year! I think I've won it once. And then after presents and the race, we all go home.
Personally, I think that some of the other stuff that goes on in our city during the Derby festival is a little more interesting than the Derby itself. The kickoff event is Thunder Over Louisville, which is the largest fireworks show in North America. Over 800,000 people attend on average. They have a special guest who presses the button to start the show- sometimes it's a "local hero" or some other deserving individual. One time it was started from the international space station! Then there's lots of music (pop, rock, and soundtrack stuff) and 20 minutes of fireworks. Then end the show with a display designed to look like they've blown up one of the bridges on the Ohio River. I hear I went to Thunder as a toddler, but that was just once or twice. The rest of my life, I've just watched it on TV. As soon as the show was over, we'd mute the TV and wait for the sound to travel out to our end of the county. I tried to do that this year, but Brandon turned the volume back up on the TV, and I couldn't hear it anymore. We also have parades, a steamboat race, concerts, a mini marathon, and a bunch of other stuff. I really like writing to my kids about the Derby festival- it's something fun about where I live, and I always send them a photo or two of the fireworks from a local news website.
This year's Derby was kind of exciting! My cousin Chris and his family (his lovely wife Amanda and their kids Justin and Brooklyn) came up from Florida to go to the Derby. I haven't seen Chris and Justin since I got married- four years ago! Brooklyn just turned 1 in April, so I hadn't even seen her yet! Chris and I spent a lot of time together growing up, because he lived at my grandparents' house for a few years. After he moved to Florida, we didn't see each other or talk much anymore. I'm so thankful for Facebook, though! It's been wonderful reconnecting with him over the past few years- and I get to see pictures of him and his family all the time!
Going to the race is an all day event, so my mom and I were going to watch Brooklyn at my house until they got done that night. They all stayed at my grandparents' house, so when we went to pick Brooklyn up, we took some pictures of everyone in their fancy Derby outfits (the fashion is a really fun part of the festivities) and I got to show my Tanzania pictures and souvenirs to my grandparents. After that, we took Brooklyn over to Lifeway, where my mom works- she had to show her off! We had fun playing with an Easter clearance toy for a while, and everyone got to see how cute Brooklyn is! Then we picked up lunch and headed back to my house. We had a nice afternoon playing with toys (both mine and Brooklyn's), and I got to watch TV with my mom while Brooklyn napped.
My Star Wars collection is so vast that it includes adorable baby toys.
After naptime, we picked up my brother and headed out to my other grandparents' house. Brooklyn was very excited to see the horses there. They have two horses (one of whom is a certified wild mustang, adopted from the mustang program out west), a pony (my buddy Archie, who is a week older than me) and my mammaw's pride and joy, Wilbur the mule. Chip and Archie were kind of close to the fence, but they didn't come all the way down to see us. Brooklyn was thrilled nonetheless. She makes cute little noises when she sees animals. She kind of pants like a dog, and she makes a little hissing noise (like "tsss"), as if she's trying to call animals over to her! We just stood watching the horses for a bit- she had her arms out and stared at them intently, going "tsss" every few moments. It was so cute!
After dinner and watching the race, we came back to my house to wait for Chris and Amanda to come pick Brooklyn up. She got to play with my rabbit Gimli up in his room. He didn't mind her at all, and he just hopped around her while she played with some of his toys (most of them have jingle bells in them.) Every time he came close enough, she just reached out and patted him gently. She was so good with him! We had a really fun time, and I'm hoping they all get to come back up here this summer!