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Thursday, February 2, 2012

We Are Louisville

Since the blog has reached all over the world at this point, I would like to share some information about the city that I discuss so much, my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. The following information was received from Louisville Facts & Firsts at For those of you that have never visited here, you should really consider it. It's beautiful and not to mention home to the Kentucky Derby (horse racing).

Louisville Facts & Firsts

  • The City of Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark and is named after King Louis XVI of France.

  • The Official Seal of the City of Louisville reflects its history and heritage - the fleur-de-lis represents French aid given during the Revolutionary War, and the thirteen stars signify the original colonies.

  • Louisville's First Town Charter was signed in 1780 by Thomas Jefferson, Governor of Virginia.

  • Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), 12th President of the U.S., grew up in Louisville and is buried in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery on Brownsboro Road.

  • The University of Louisville, founded in 1798, is the oldest city-supported college in the United States.

  • Since 1875, Churchill Downs has been the home of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing.

  • The Louisville Slugger baseball bat was made by Andrew "Bud" Hillerich in his father's woodworking shop in Louisville in 1884. The brand name "Louisville Slugger" was first used in 1893.

  • The Hot Brown originated at The Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville in the 1900s. The open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich is topped with a rich cheese sauce.

  • Built in 1914, the Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating Mississippi-style sternwheeler steamboat in existence today.

  • Louisville’s nationally-acclaimed parks system includes parks and parkways designed by famed architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York City.

  • Louisville has the nation’s largest urban municipal forest – the 6,000 acre Jefferson Memorial Forest in south Louisville.

  • Nominated in 1916, Louis D. Brandeis lived in Old Louisville and served as the first Jewish Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

  • The Cheeseburger originated at Kaelin's Restaurant on Newburg Road. In 1934, Margaret Kaelin's husband asked her to put a slice of American cheese on his hamburger and the legend was born.

  • Modjeskas is a candy treat made of marshmallow dipped in liquid caramel that was created and made in Louisville by Anton Busath in the 1870's.

  • Famous Louisvillian Pee Wee Reese was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.

  • "Happy Birthday to You" was written by sisters Mildred and Patty Hill in their Louisville kindergarten class. Originally called "Good Morning to You," it was later changed to this tradition birthday anthem.

  • Jennie Carter Benedict, a Louisville restaurateur, created Benedictine, a spread made of cucumbers and cream cheese.

  • Muhammad Ali, world recognized Louisvillian and Kentucky's Athlete of the Century, was a three-time heavyweight boxing champion.

  • Louisville's Main Street has the second largest collection of cast-iron storefronts facades, only New York City has more.

  • The Old Louisville neighborhood near downtown is the largest Victorian neighborhood in America.

  • The Ohio River stretches 981 miles and is one of the major rivers of North America.

  • Like I said before, I was born and raised here and I love it. This is where my roots are and always will be! The first Saturday in May is one of the biggest days and the month before brings a city-wide party, including events like Thunder Over Louisville. Here's a description of that from the website

    Rated as one of the top 100 events in North America, the Derby Festival's Opening Ceremonies is truly a sight to behold. And each year, more than 500,000 eager thrill-seekers do just that.
    The day-long event kicks off the two exciting weeks of events that are part of the annual Kentucky Derby Festival. The Thunder Air Show dazzles the crowd with more than 100 planes, aerobatics teams, daring sky diving teams and breathtaking stunts.
    When it gets dark, the Thunder rolls. The fireworks will feature the latest in pyrotechnic power fromZambelli Internationale, America's "first family of fireworks". Six barges that are 100-foot open top each assemble on both sides of the 2nd Street Bridge to form the stage from which the fireworks spectacular ignites.
    The breathtaking and mind-numbing 28-minute show includes Thunder's signature one-mile "waterfall" effect off the bridge, making the fireworks seem to rain down forever. And in the crowd's memory of the show, it does!
    After more than a decade, the show remains the largest annual pyrotechnic display in North America. Seen by approximately 1-million U.S. Armed Forces, Department of Defense civilian employees and their families stationed in 176 countries and aboard 140 U.S. Navy ships at sea via a July 4th rebroadcast on the American Forces Network, it is the state's pride. A Discovery Channel documentary on fireworks shows says it best, "Thunder is the Grand-daddy of them all!".
    There's four more events I would like to highlight as well: Marathon and Mini Marathon, Great Balloon Festival, Great Steamboat Race, and the Pegasus Parade. I copied some information below from the website. Check it out for more details!

    Marathon and Mini Marathon
    The 26.2 mile Derby Marathon and the 12 mile Derby miniMarathon are two of the top annual Kentucky Derby Festival events. More than 12,000 people from all over the world gather together on the last Saturday in April to run one of these two scenic marathons through Louisville's parks and neighborhoods and past some of the city's biggest attractions. The Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon is the more popular of the two races and has been named among the nation's top 50 races by USA Track and Field.
    Great Balloon Festival

    The Great Balloon Fest is a series of five Kentucky Derby Festival events that lead up to the main event--the Great Balloon Race. The first Great Balloon Race was held at Iroquois Park in 1973, and featured only seven balloons. However, the Great Balloon Race quickly became one of the most popular Kentucky Derby Festival events, and what was once just the Great Balloon Race is now an entire weekend festival of hot air ballooning events. Each of these events is free with a Pegasus Pin, though you may be required to pay a parking fee.

    Great Steamboat Race
    The Great Steamboat Race is an annual Kentucky Derby Festival event that occurs on the Wednesday before the Kentucky Derby. It is a race down the Ohio River between the Belle of Louisville the Belle of Cincinnati. Prior to 2009, the Belle of Louisville raced the Delta Queen in the Great Steamboat Race, but new federal regulations forced the Delta Queen to dock permanently at the end of 2008. It is now being kept as a hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
    Pegasus Parade
    The Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Parade was the first ever event of the Kentucky Derby Festival. Though the festival has grown since the days where it consisted of just the parade and the Derby and Oaks races, the Pegasus Parade remains one of the biggest and best Kentucky Derby Festival events. Parade participants march, walk, and roll down Broadway in Downtown Louisville while spectators watch the amazing series of floats, inflatable characters, marching bands, celebrities, and horses pass by.

    That is my favorite time of year! I absolutely love it. Back in my party days, I would hit all of these up and top it off with the infield on Oaks Day. That's basically a day before the Derby where most of the locals attend. It's a mad, crazy party out there. Then, when I worked at Ford, we would get tickets to attend Oaks in reserved seating among co-workers. That was always really nice. I love the people I worked with, they know how to party! And I was able to take in a more elegant approach. My Father-In-Law purchased some kick ass tickets for the Derby and wasn't able to attend, so he gave them to my niece and me. We sat right there among the stars, ate all the food and drinks our little hearts desired, and even dressed up with one of those funky hats. (laughing) It was a beautiful time that I will always cherish in my heart!

    But, there is one of my favorite things I still have to touch on, The Barnstable Brown Gala! The following information is from the website:

    For more than two decades, some of the brightest stars from the worlds of film, television, music, fashion and sports have celebrated the night before the “Run for the Roses” at Louisville’s quintessential Derby Eve party – the Barnstable Brown Party.
    Truly a family affair, the Barnstable Brown gala is co-hosted by twin sisters – and famed Doublemint twins – Patricia (“Tricia”) Barnstable Brown and Priscilla (“Cyb”) Barnstable, their mother, Wilma (“Willie”) Barnstable, and Tricia’s son, Chris Brown. The black-tie gala raises money for programs supporting diabetes research, treatment and education at the sisters’ alma mater, the University of Kentucky. Diabetes claimed the life of Tricia’s husband, Dr. David Brown, and the glamorous Derby Eve event is still held at the posh home Tricia and her late husband shared in Louisville’s beloved Highlands neighborhood.
    The Barnstable family has hosted hundreds of Hollywood luminaries over the decades, including many guests who help entertain the crowd through live (and sometimes spontaneous) musical performances. Here’s a look at some of the VIP guests who have attended:
    • Paris Hilton and Doug Reinhardt
    • Brooke Shields
    • Danica Patrick
    • Boyz II Men
    • Tom Brady
    • Eli Manning
    • Kid Rock
    • Taylor Dayne
    • En Vogue (Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson and Terry Ellis)
    • Joey Fatone
    • Terry O'Quinn
    • Nick Lachey
    • Drew Lachey
    • Darryl “DMC” McDaniels
    • Travis Tritt
    • Erv Woosley
    • Mary Wilson
    • Larry Birkhead
    • Gretchen Wilson
    • Lee Ann Womack

    Personally, I have never actually attended this party - couldn't afford to! BUT, it's a tradition, going on 5 years, for me and party rockers to celebrate Oaks and then head to the Barnstable-Brown home and stand outside among other screaming and adoring fans to watch the celebrities red carpet their way into this amazing event. It's really cool and some of them even interact with the fans and take photos and sign autographs. I would like to share some of encounters over the years. When Tommy was about 2 weeks old, Larry Birkhead (Anna Nicole Smith's baby daddy; also a local) was walking through talking to every one. This was during the time or possibly a short time after Anna Nicole's death and the whole paternity suit. He spotted Tommy and asked if he could my baby. I was like "sure, as long as I can get your picture". Of course the media ate it up and I'm sure there's a picture out there with my little man. Another person that really sticks out to me in meeting is John Wall. He's a former University of Kentucky basketball player who went pro after his first year of college ball. He was the nicest, most well mannered person I ever met. But, I have to admit it ... my biggest let down was this - I was a huge fan of the E! show "The Girls Next Door" and one year Hugh Hefner, Kendra, Holly, Bridget, and other's from the show were in attendance. I was 5 months pregnant with Marissa and took on the crowd just to see them. However, it started to rain, wait, take that back, a freaking' torrential downpour, so I started quickly making my way to the car when over the loud sound system came "Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Hugh Hefner and The Girls Next Door. The crowd went nuts!!! I obviously walked by their limo and had no clue it was them, but I missed seeing them. Not even a glimpse! 
    With all that being said, I'm sure the locals that are reading this can't wait for this time of year to hurry up and get here. But, for those of you that have never experienced it, you really need to add it to your bucket list. It's a blast!!!!

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