Derby revelers reminisce on lively Central Avenue street parties of the past
In the midst of all the celebrations set for Derby weekend, true revelers still miss the one party that defined a generation.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Present-day Central Avenue is nothing more than a way to get us under the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs to watch history made.
But sometimes, in the middle of Shawn Stevens' workday, he daydreams about the Louisville street on Derby Eve decades ago with memories so vivid he can almost still smell the stale beer.
It was the 90s. AC/DC was blaring, acid wash jeans were in, and the party was on.
"People left and right, all down the street, were having parties in the front yard," Stevens said.
He and his buddies had the time of their lives.
"We went and got a keg of beer, and put it in the back of a little pull wagon, and we were selling beers for a buck a cup out of a wagon," he said.
The brews, the bands and the food all became a staple in his life, and the same goes for a lot of other rowdier people.
Former Louisville Police Captain Steve Thompson recalls when things got out of control in 1990.
"It was an accident looking for a place to happen," Thompson said. "They tried to turn over a police car, they had fights, the officers were terribly outnumbered. The number one complaint we had from them was people urinating in the yard."
It got ugly, but Thompson worked with his force to calm it down.
"Doing things the same way, and expecting better results is the definition of insanity, so we changed a whole lot of things for the better," he said.
Officers formed teams, outlawed glass, quadrupled the amount of port-a-potties, and put a plan in place for the partiers who couldn't be stopped.
"We did what we call instant sobriety," Thompson said. "We brought the fire trucks through with the pumpers, and maybe they aimed a little high. But within 10 minutes after they came through, this street was clear."
The changes worked for a few more years until Central Avenue got bigger, and the party fizzled.
Stevens was bummed, but he will always hold on tight to the memories of living it up "Derby style."
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