Thunder's nothing new for me, but I'm doing it up right this year for my Thunder-date, who's seeing it all for the first time. Watch for reports from the Seelbach and the Louisville Ballet's big bashes.
My opinion on Thunder over Louisville
, after umpteen trips downtown, is that it's a pretty good fireworks show, but an even better party.
Fortunately, I've seen it from about every vantage point you can imagine on the 'Ville side of the Ohio -- down amongst the masses in Waterfront Park, up in a skyscraper, on the ground at the Belvedere and, lately, from my couch far away from all that madness.
But you always remember your first, which for me involved taking an infant son down to the Belvedere, freezing and huddling under a blanket, and sitting in traffic for a couple of hours.
I had gotten to where I empathized with Wayne Hettinger and the gang running the show -- how many different ways can you think of to shoot off a bunch of fireworks?
This year, though, I'm pretty excited, because I'm introducing Thunder to my girlfriend Susan for the first time. She's a native, but left town pre-Thunder to live in Colorado. And she's going to be in town as my Thunder date, which prompted me to figure out a way to make it special for her.
I'm calling it Thunder weekend. First, we're going out to see Aroldis Chapman, the rookie sensation, pitch for the Bats on Friday. Susan's a baseball fan who loves the Rockies, so I know she's gonna love Slugger Field. And my seats, as Bob Uecker loves to say, are in "the front rooowww."
Saturday we're heading for Keeneland, where a bunch of our college buddies from WKU are having a reunion because one of us (I'm not there just yet) is turning the big 5-0. Susan loves the ponies, so I am expecting that pulling her away from all of our old pals and the excitement of the paddock may be challenging, so I'm enticing her with a really first-class Thunder experience back home.
That would start with a fancy, schmancy dinner at the Oakroom
at the Seelbach. It's a three-course dinner, served between 5 and 10, with the idea that folks like us can enjoy it, then take a leisurely walk a few blocks closer to the show, passing through Fourth Street Live on the way to the waterfront.
The Seelbach, of course, is doing it up right, starting with a Lobster Fritter as the first course. I'm not really sure what that is, but it sure sounds good. I'm probably going for the Bison Sloppy Joe, with sweet potato fries, in the second course. Bananas Foster for dessert? How can you turn that down?
You can still get reservations by calling 807-DINE, It's $45 for the dinner, prepared by Executive Chef Jim Gerhardt and Chef de Cuisine Bobby Benjamin. And you get free parking there, just far enough away from the crowds that a hasty get-away is do-able.
But Susan and I probably aren't getting away all too quickly. We've been invited to get crazy at the "Let's Go Crazy at Thunder" party at the Louisville Ballet HQ on Main Street. Sponsored by LEO Weekly, it's a $75 per ticket bash that includes a bourbon tasting. Yippee! Bourbon.
There's going to be catered goodies from Carrabba's Italian Grill, just in case we don't get filled up on lobster fritters, and live music, of course. And it includes an unobstructed view of the big fireworks show.
Susan, who was always the first girl on the dance floor at Pike House parties nearly 30 years ago, has warned me she'll be dragging me out there after the fireworks, when the band Wax Fang starts playing Prince's Purple Rain in its entirety.
Info on the Ballet party
is available by calling 583-3150, ext. 229.
I'll be taking along my computer and reporting from all these hotspots, occassionally, for Louisville.com. So check in from wherever you are.