Every year Kentuckiana kicks off Derby Festival with the nation’s largest annual fireworks event, Thunder Over Louisville! Thousands upon thousands of people flock to both sides of the river for 30 minutes of BANG, BOOM and SPARKLE. But all these people can present a problem – where do you park and where’s the best place to see the show? If you’re lucky enough to have friends along the riverfront then you generally don’t have to worry about these things. If you’re like the majority, however, you’re probably on the hunt for the perfect spot and we here at the Parks have you covered! In this segment of Rec Report, we’re going to divulge how we at the Parks Department do Thunder Over Louisville.
Essentially, we have two favorite locations for Thunder and all the crazy that comes with it. But before the sun goes down and the lights come out, it’d be rude of us not to mention the amazing Air Show that takes place earlier in the day! Personally, we really missed the B2 Bombers last year, but we’re happy to say they’re back in business for Thunder 2017!
The best view for the Air Show is at the corner of E Court Avenue and Spring Street at Warder Park. Now this portion of the day’s events is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m., which means that you’ve got time to snag a quick treat from either Sweets by Morgan or Adrienne & Company (both just a block away from the park entrance), as well as have plenty of time to grab some decent parking before you get settled in to watch. Luckily, there’s a parking lot right across Court as well as parking at the Vintage Fire Museum. We’d suggest leaving the car at one of these two places, picking up a treat and either grabbing a spot on one of the available benches or bringing your own lawn chairs.
Unfortunately, we can’t give you the same suggestions for the fireworks. Parking will be on a first-come-first-serve basis, so you will want to get a spot at your earliest opportunity. Spend the day in Downtown Jeffersonville; we promise there’s no lack of things to do! But when you are ready to grab your seats for the show, we’d recommend you head to either the RiverStage or Big 4 Station Park.
The RiverStage Terrace Lawn is on the river’s edge with tiered green space. This makes it the closest you can get to the show with the least amount of effort. We’d recommend this space for children and the vertically challenged who always end up standing/sitting behind someone well over six feet tall. There are on location stalls that we maintain so you don’t have to worry about finding facilities, and if you get hungry, Cluckers and Flat 12 are located just on the other side of the street.
Something else to consider is that you will be just feet away from the Ohio River, which means that getting back to wherever you parked and out of traffic may take a while. We’d recommend hanging around for a bit and letting the crowd die down. If you know you’re going to be impatient to get home after such a long day of fun, we’d recommend you take in the view at Big 4 Station Park instead.
Nestled between Mulberry and Pearl Streets, Big 4 Station Park is the Indiana base of the Walking Bridge. There’s plenty of room and playground equipment for the kids to run around and burn off all that extra energy that comes with big events like Thunder Over Louisville. Additionally, should the sun be out and beating down, there’s a large shaded pavilion where you can park your chairs and/or strollers. Either way, you have an unobstructed view of the skyline.
We’ve got water fountains and restrooms on site as well, and once again you’re just a short walk away from some great businesses. Right next door is Pearl Street Treats and the Red Yeti is just a block away. Worried about parking? There are parking spaces along nearly the entire park and the Colston Memorial Park (just on the other side of Mulberry Street) is being designated for parking during this event, meaning you can get behind the steering wheel and on your way home faster than most.
If you ever wondered how the folks at the Parks Department do Thunder Over Louisville, now you know. So, whether you’re looking to the sky for airplanes and fireworks, or just trying to find that perfect parking spot for a day of family fun, we hope you’ll spend April 22nd with us in the parks located in Downtown Jeffersonville! Let the Derby Festival begin!