LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- Thunder Over Louisville, one of the most famous and largest firework and airshows in the nation, will be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers of the Kentucky Derby Festival announced Tuesday that all events, including Thunder, will be delayed with the Kentucky Derby's postponement until Sept. 5.
Thunder has been pushed back until Aug. 15.
"Public health and safety needs to be our focus right now," Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO, said in a statement. "We want to help in that effort and we also want the community to know we will be here once we get through this."
Thunder is the kick-off event to the Kentucky Derby Festival and was scheduled for April 18 at the Waterfront Park in downtown Louisville. It typically draws more than 700,000 attendees from across the country.
“This was no easy undertaking to make a move. I mean you’re dealing with two states, three cities, closing roads, stopping the river traffic, re-routing the air traffic and stopping trains, so it’s a big undertaking and to be able to get all these people together and find that date that worked for everybody is phenomenal," said Wayne Hettinger, who produces Thunder Over Louisville.
"We fully expect it to look just like any other Thunder except in a hotter month. It'll probably be one of the warmer Thunders we've experienced and less chance of a rising Ohio and the challenges we face, but it'll look just like the same produce that this community has come to know," Gibson told WDRB.
Dates for other Kentucky Derby Festival events, such as the Pegasus Parade and marathon, will be announced as soon as they're finalized, according to a news release Thursday.
"The schedule may look a little different with events moving into a new timeframe, but our goal is to have Thunder Over Louisville, the miniMarathon, the Pegasus Parade, Fest-a-Ville and the Chow Wagon, and many other events in between," Gibson said in a statement.
"There are a lot of moving parts with all the events. We just ask that everyone be patient as we work to get things rescheduled," he added. "We will work to ensure this transition to new dates is as seamless as possible.”
Previously purchased Pegasus Pins will be honored for all future events this year, the Kentucky Derby Festival news release says. The group will also release more information on ticketed events, participation and refunds in the future.
Officials have been hinting that the events could be cancelled or delayed as more and more people are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
Government and health officials have encouraged people to avoid gatherings and remain six feet away from other people, an impossibility at events such as Thunder, where people stands elbow to elbow for hours.
The Kentucky Derby Festival is taking precautions with its employees, who are working remotely as they continue plans for the festival and postponing small events and promotions.
WDRB Media will broadcast the Thunder Over Louisville airshow and fireworks on Aug. 15.
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