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    Cover photo by Adam Mescan

    Each month, we send our staff a memo that poses them a question. In our Derby issue, we had them complete the phrase “Derby is… ?”

    I remember being new to Louisville in 1980, Genuine Risk’s year, and getting a freelancer’s Derby credential. Back then, the Downs didn’t look like Vegas and the paddock was dingy and underneath the grandstand. You could knock on the glass of the Derby horses’ stalls, if you had long arms and really wanted to, before they saddled up. This sticks with me because it startled me so, but when I reached out toward the horse Rumbo (who finished second and gaining), somebody pulled me back and said, “Don’t — he’s crazy.”

    – Jack Welch, copy editor

    The stylish outfits make the Derby season something to look forward to every single year. Put on your party hat.

    - Brooke Wyrosdick, operations assistant

    Clocking horses in the morning at the Downs, then over to Wagner’s for pancakes.

    - Bill Doolittle, contributing writer

    As much as I roll my eyes at the tourist-centric mess that is Derby, I secretly like seeing people psyched for stuff that I overlook in Louisville. It can be a nice reminder of the cool things that are always around.

    - Michelle Eigenheer, contributing writer

    During the Great Balloon Race when I was six, I saw a giant cake-shaped hot air balloon crash into John E’s restaurant in Buechel. Ever since, I’ve been intrigued by the whole premise of colorful sacks of helium and fire floating through the sky.

    - Evan Allen, editorial intern

    Derby season is about excitement and anticipation, and not just because of the actual race. For me, Derby marks the real beginning of summer, and maybe that’s because I went to U of L, where spring finals always end before the first Saturday in May. I graduated a couple years ago, but I can clearly remember bouncing out of my last final exam, with Derby just days away, feeling free and full of hope.

    - Alexandra Winters, assistant web editor

    When I was maybe four years old, my younger cousin and her parents visited from Rhode Island on Derby weekend. I vividly remember us wearing matching jean jackets and playing in our backyard in the plush, green grass that you only see briefly between winter’s bite and summer’s scorch.

    - Mary Chellis Austin, managing editor

    This will be our first year leaving town for Derby weekend. I’m sad to miss some of the Derby Festival events and the big galas that make it the best week of the year in Louisville, but we’re renting out our house and are super excited to be going to Disney World! #TheForceIsStrongInThisFamily #GiveUsTheMagicBands

    - Mandy Wood, advertising account executive

    It’s easy for me to go about my daily rituals wondering how old friends are doing, looking at their photos on Facebook without connecting with them in any real way. I know Derby is a time when I often have real heart-to-hearts with people who are dear old friends. It often sparks a dinner or two, perhaps an artistic endeavor. It awakens my otherwise dormant social life.

    - Suki Anderson, art director

    The morning workouts, the warmer weather, the festivities. Around late April, it just feels like something big is about to happen. 

    - Brandon Quick, contributing writer

    I adore the miniMarathon. I haven’t gotten to run it a lot lately because these last several years I’ve either been pregnant or just had a baby or been battling some persistent injury. I dig the folks who come out and cheer on the runners. I love the course itself, especially since Iroquois Park’s hills are no longer involved. Glory days: A little more than ten years ago, I was the third woman across the finish line! I’m older and a lot slower now, but I still love the race.

    - Anne Marshall, senior writer

    This originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.


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