Once upon a time, I missed a good old traditional American 4th of July celebration because I was living in Germany. I was traumatized for life. Pfft, said the well intentioned Germans. Wait for New Year's Eve. We'll put your country to shame. Our cities full of stone buildings roofed with clay shingles mean we don't just aim at the sky - we try to set our entire country on fire. It's only worked twice. You'll love it.
On different years, I saw fireworks in Hamburg and Munich. Look, I know New Year's is in the middle of winter but there's only so much disappointing shrinkage you can blame on the weather. I came back to the states in desperate need of studly pyrotechnic displays of our nation's might.
Five years ago, I saw my first Thunder.
Rumor says there's also an airshow. I don't care. I'm in it for the fireworks. The oh so glorious fireworks. The panty moistening fireworks of a nation that knows you're putting out tonight because it's showing you the time of your life first. I've gone down on the river every year and Thunder never fails to impress. As a passionate lover of fireworks, I can tell you Thunder's show is both the biggest and longest I've ever seen. You want it. You know you do.
DOING IT RIGHT
Last year's Thunder Over Louisville  had a record turnout. This year's weather will be a balmy 65 degrees during the day. That's actually perfect - because you're going to take a walk. Here's my recommendation for a fun, leisurely Thunder experience that'll leave everyone in a good mood instead of exhausted and grumpy by the end of the night.
- Wear good walking shoes.
- Park on Frankfort Avenue. Eat at one of the restaurants near the end of the strip.
- Pack a few bottles of water or soda - or enough cash to cheerfully buy some when you get there.
- Walk straight down Frankfort, Past Story, and all the way to River Road. Turn left and follow the sea of people.
Don't worry about staking out a "good place" on The Great Lawn. Instead, wander around the river front. Play in the bouncy castles, eat a caramel apple, drink overpriced beer. Heck, maybe even look up at the airshow. I hear it's a good one. You have an awesome day long festival. Enjoy it! Just try to be standing on the river-facing side of the bridge when the sun goes down. Once the Star Spangled Banner starts, inch forward. As long as the bridge isn't in the way, there's no such thing as a bad view. It's glorious.
Now here's the fun part. You were smart. You parked a mile away on Frankfort Avenue and therefore you're not going to spend the next hour idling in your car while waiting to get out of a downtown parking garage. The beer and caramel apples are cheaper after the show. Get one of each for dessert and start your hike back to Frankfort. By the time you reach your car, the traffic will have miraculously cleared up. You'll have an easy drive home after a day well spent. You're welcome.
Photo courtesy Zambelli Fireworks.