A Parade Of History

Courtesy www,kdf.org

The parade, first held in 1956, is the Derby Festival’s oldest and founding event. It began on a budget of $640 and now provides an impact in excess of $22 million to the local economy.

In 2012, the 57th parade will march down Broadway on May 3 with a theme of “Family, Fun & Games” and promises to be a spectacle of colorful floats, marching bands, giant inflatables, equestrians and celebrities parading down Broadway in downtown Louisville. (Registration to participate in the 2012 Republic Bank Pegasus Parade is closed.)

An estimated 275,000 fans attended the 2011 Republic Bank Pegasus Parade, themed “Heroic Adventures,” which marched down Broadway under beautiful weather conditions. Four Congressional Medal of Honor recipients served as Grand Marshals of the parade. The Grand Marshals were: World War II veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams of West Virginia; Korean War veteran Ernie West of Russell, Ky.; Vietnam War veteran Gary Littrell of Henderson, Ky; and Vietnam War veteran Don Jenkins of Quality, Ky. The members of Bellarmine University’s NCAA Division II men’s national champion basketball team served as Honorary Grand Marshals of the Pegasus Parade.

Other celebrities participating in the parade included Kate Gosselin of TLC’s reality show Kate Plus 8; Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas of VH1’s What Chilli Wants; 2011 Miss America Teresa Scanlan; and professional poker legend Robert Williamson III. The 2011 Pegasus Parade was dedicated to the memory of the late Judy Barcus, who entertained thousands of people as “Ju-Ju” the Clown and was a longtime Derby Festival supporter. Parade volunteers wore clown buttons featuring a photo of Judy and a banner honoring her was carried down the parade route.

Supporters of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky were cheering down the parade route as their float took home the Addison McGhee Sweepstakes Award for best overall float. Hwang’s Martial Arts won the Grand Marshal’s Award; Second Chance@Life won the KDF Board Chair’s Award; and Kosair Charites/Kosair Shriner’s won the President’s Award.

The parade is known for its beautiful equestrian units. Grand Champion Equestrian Unit went to the Kentucky Horse Park Equestrian Team. The first place award for Best Mounted Equestrian Unit went to Young Guns 4-H Equestrian Drill Team. Best Commercial Driven Equestrian Unit went to Wells Fargo; Non-Commercial Driven Unit was awarded to Patriot Hills Equestrian Team. Illinois Valley Central High School won the Grand Prize in the Basil Caummisar Battle of the Bands competition. Derby City Rollers won the Ray Wimberg Specialty Unit Award, LGE’s Louie the Lightning Bug won the Earl Ruby Inflatable Spirit Award and Rocky Mountain Equestrain won the Super Scooper Award.

It is not surprising that the parade is consistently voted as one of Louisville’s favorite events. The parade is a true community asset and generates an economic impact annually of $22 million. More than 90 percent of the route is free public viewing thanks to the sponsorship of Republic Bank.The parade was led by their “Absolutely Pegasus” balloon.

Past Parade Themes

1956 “Pegasus Parade”
1957 “Famous Horses”
1958 “This Is Kentucky”
1959 “Famous Songs”
1960 “Famous Firsts”
1961 “Civil War Centennial”
1962 “Our American Heritage”
1963 “Great Adventures”
1964 “Happy Holidays”
1965 “Fairy Tales – Nursery Rhymes”
1966 “Festival Days ‘Round The World”
1967 Parade cancelled
1968 “Great Moments In American History”
1969 “The Wonderful World Of Music”
1970 “Rediscover America”
1971 “America The Beautiful”
1972 “Broadway On Parade”
1973 “Great Books”
1974 “Remember The Year”
1975 “The Land Of Make-Believe”
1976 “The American Dream”
1977 “A Child’s Dream”
1978 “Leisure Time”
1979 “World Of Entertainment”
1980 “Silver Celebration”
1981 “A Parade Of Festivals”
1982 “America, Kentucky-Style”
1983 “Springtime Magic”
1984 “America’s Tradition – Hometown USA”
1985 “The Magic Of Make-Believe”
1986 “The Whole World’s Getting Together”
1987 “Reflections of America”
1988 “Headed For The Future”
1989 “Festival: A Magic Moment In Time”
1990 “Festival: 35th Celebration”
1991 “Kentucky Derby Festival?: Vision Of The ‘90s”
1992 “Celebrate Kentucky”
1993 “All for Fun, Fun for All!!”
1994 “Forever Young”
1995 “Magical Visions…Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow!”
1996 “Through a Child’s Eyes”
1997 “Frontiers Across the Centuries”
1998 “Hollywood on Broadway”
1999 “Music. . . That’s Entertainment”
2000 “Crowning Achievements”
2001 “A Galaxy of Fun”
2002 “Thrill of the Game”
2003 “The Spirit of Adventure”
2004 “Broadway Toon Town”
2005 “Rockin @ 50”
2006 “Once Upon A Toy”
2007 “Wonders, Wizards and Wands”
2008 “A World of Possibilities”
2009 “Destinations & Discoveries”
2010 “Spring Fever Reliever”
2011 “Heroic Adventures”

Past Parade Grand Marshals

1956 Tom Young, Superintendent of Churchill Downs
1957 Maj. Gen. John L. Ryan
1958 Dr. Phillip Davidson
1959 Maj. Gen. W. Paul Johnson
1960 Raymond Burr
1961 Dwayne Hickman
1962 Maj. Gen. J. E. Bastion
1963 Michael Landon
1964 Joe E. Brown, Edie Adams, Liberace
1965 Alan Hale, Jr.
1966 Robert Conrad
1967 Dale Robertson (Parade cancelled)
1968 Jimmy Ellis
1969 Fess Parker
1970 Peter Graves
1971 Ed Asner
1972 Lorne Greene [Grand Marshalls 2]
1973 Rod Steiger
1974 Lynn Stone
1975 Joe B. Hall, Denny Crum
1976 John Wayne [Grand Marshalls 1]
1977 Col. Harland Sanders
1978 Foster Brooks
1979 Phyllis George
1980 Darrell Griffith, Kyle Macy
1981 Muhammad Ali
1982 Gov. A. B. “Happy” Chandler
1983 Bill Monroe
1984 Diane Sawyer
1985 Rosemary Clooney
1986 Ricky Skaggs
1987 Ned Beatty
1988 Annie Potts
1989 Danny Sullivan
1990 John Forsythe
1991 Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf [Grand Marshalls 3]
1992 William Shatner
1993 Gladys Knight
1994 Willard Scott
1995 Pat Day, Terry Wilcutt
1996 Coach Rick Pitino
1997 Captain Scott O’Grady
1998 Gloria Stuart
1999 Loretta Lynn
2000 Tori Murden-McClure & Miss America Heather Renee French
2001 Buzz Aldrin & Denny Crum
2002 Winter Olympic Bronze Medalists: U.S. Bobsled Team
2003 Little League World Series Champions: Valley Sports American
2004 Cathy Guisewite: Creator of “Cathy” comic strip
2005 Chubby Checker
2006 Muhammad Ali
2007 Mickey Mouse (Grand Magician: Mac King)
2008 Bobby Flay (Honorary Grand Marshal: Patrick Henry Hughes)
2009 Professional golf Kenny Perry and his father, Ken
2010 Diane Lane and Penny Chenery
2011 Congressional Medal of Honor recipients: World War II veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams of West Virginia; Korean War veteran Ernie West of Russell, Ky.; Vietnam War veteran Gary Littrell of Henderson, Ky; and Vietnam War veteran Don Jenkins of Quality, Ky. (Honorary Grand Marshals: Bellarmine University’s NCAA Division II men’s national champion basketball team)