Last minute preps continue at Thunder Command Center - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Last minute preps continue at Thunder Command Center

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With Thunder Over Louisville now only hours away, preparations continue at the Command Center in the Galt House.

The Thunder Command Center is a busy place, with a countdown clock reminding everyone that it's crunch time.

Long before we see the planes or the fireworks, the Thunder team works tirelessly, high atop the city in the 34th floor of the Galt House. 

"We started loading in Monday of this week," said Thunder Producer Wayne Hettinger. 

Hettinger said teams were spending the day before the big show "just getting everything in place, connected and ready to go."

Thunder officials tells us everything is going according to plan --  after all, this is their 27th year of staging the largest annual fireworks show in North America. 

That doesn't mean there hasn't been a few bumps in the road, including issues with the bridge. 

"The bridge is quite challenging because of the length and you have crews positioned all over the place," said 37:27 Michael Zambelli with Zambelli Fireworks. 

Crews had to halt work on the Second Street Bridge Thursday because of wind and rain, meaning they spent Friday working to finish up placing the fireworks.

If you plan on attending Thunder, some last minute reminders: park as far away from downtown as you possibly can, and leave pets at home. 

KDF officials also remind parents to keep an eye on their children. 

"If you're bringing small children, know what they're wearing," said Aimee Boyd. "Take pictures of your kids. Before to come down with big crowds, it can be easy to lose them in the crowds so we have a lot of lost children stations." 

Another reminder: bring your Pegasus pin for admission, but if you don't have one, there will be plenty of places to purchase one on Saturday. 

Patricia Kemper won a Kentucky Lottery contest that gives her an opportunity to turn the key to start the fireworks show.

“It’s amazing,” said Patricia Kemper, this year’s Thundernator. “It’s funny that my friends say, ‘Oh, I know a celebrity! Can I have your autograph?’ I mean, silly things like that. But it’s great.”

This is her first Thunder. She’s always stayed away because of traffic – which is something you should plan for.

“You really want to look at the traffic plan that LMPD has set out,” said Aimee Boyd, spokesperson for the Kentucky Derby Festival. “Check the maps. Know where to park so that you can get out the quickest. Another good tip is to park as far away from the venue as you can possibly walk. That’s going to let you get out quicker when you leave.

Attendees are also urged to plan ahead.

“We are expecting great weather for Thunder Over Louisville, and that means folks will be coming down early,” Boyd said. “So you want to plan ahead before you get down here and know that we’re going to have people coming down all day, and then everyone is going to want to leave at the same time.”

Thunder producer Wayne Hettinger may have the best seat in the house, but that doesn’t mean he has the best view.

“Our view, as much as it’s nice that we’ve got these windows, we’re watching computers more than we’re watching out the window,” Hettinger said.

The whole show is cued from the Command Center at the Galt House, and some of the public gets to tour it through Saturday.

“A good portion of the Thunder Command is Disney World, so there’s these tours going,” Hettinger said. “And it’s so nice that people want to see what’s coming on. We’re happy to see them.”

For fanatics, here are some things to look forward to during the show:

“We’ve got the Army helicopters back in,” Hettinger said. “They’ve been absent for several years because of the sequester. So they’re back with us. The Coast Guard is back in to perform one of their rescue operations where they pull somebody out of the water. We’ve got the Navy Leapfrogs that are gonna open the show.”

And of course the fireworks will be going off this year to a soundtrack by the Louisville Orchestra.

Hettinger said he plans to, “close the show out with the biggest finale we’ve ever had.”

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