Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kentucky Derby 2012

I went to the Kentucky Derby again this year. I was worried that maybe I would have such a similar experience this year as I did last that maybe I shouldn't even go. That definitely was not a problem.

This year I thought I had gained some hard earned experience that would help me through the trials of the Derby. In the end I think I simply traded those pains in for new ones.  For example, Jimbo and I brought nothing in with us last year. We had mobility, sure, but at about hour 5 you are wishing you could trade that in for a nice place to sit.  So this year, with my friend Lydia, I decided it would be really awesome to bring lawn chairs. We could use these magnificent tools to lounge and enjoy ourselves and perhaps even lightly mock the chairless as they wearily plodded on by. After being shocked by the prices of drink and food (this year a mint julep was $11) I thought I would also bring a nice sized cooler full of those products chilled in ice. Great.

Our journey began walking out of the stranger's apartment a group of us had rented for the occasion. I knew taxis would be hard to come by, and I figured a random Louisville citizen would offer to pick us up somewhere along the way. That plan worked out great. We even already bought our tickets online (door prices were $50 this year with a $10 discount when bought online). I figured that would help us get in faster somehow.

Well... it turns out that people with chairs and coolers have to wait in a separate line than everyone else. And that line was about 3 hours long. It really really sucked. It was so long that many people were just ditching their coolers and chair by the side of the road to escape its longness. We joked that next year we should just come and collect these things and sell them to people outside the gates. We didn't do that, but we did trade Lydia's chairs for some nice newer ones we liberated.



 It was Cinco de Mayo so I came festive. It rained so bad I almost had to pull over on the highway the night before, so I told Lydia she should wear the rain boots she brought because I remembered that last year many girls wore them, and it got pretty muddy. Well this year very few people wore them and it didn't rain at all. Lydia reminded me of this fact periodically.

One of the bad parts was that the line was so long with so many turns that we weren't exactly sure what was at the end. Well it turns out mayhem was at the end. The line we had been faithfully waiting in devolved into a large mob. We really probably could have cut without any difficulty. Not only that, but the security that was supposed to be the reason why we were in this horrid line in the first place never kicked in. Our bags and cooler and chairs were not checked. We really could have smuggled a motorcycle into that place in pieces.

Our crazy bible beating friends were present again as last year, shouting unpleasant phrases at people into megaphones, assuring us we'd all be in hell soon. I'd just survived a few hours of heat and despair so I figured I could relate a bit better to what they meant.

Once inside cellphone signal had already been completely consumed by the mob. We couldn't get in touch with the other people in our group, so one of us always had to hang back and guard the stuff. The cooler was nice to have but it served as a big heavy anchor that needed to be watched. One guy gave us 2 dollars to keep his drink cold in our cooler, and a girl walked by and threw up on the cooler. So it sort of evened out karma-wise.

Last year we were able to get into the track in the morning, when the heat was lower and the lines were shorter. Not this time. We waited in an unmoving line for bets a while before giving up. One guy on the balcony where the rich people were threw a pile of dollar bills onto the crowd waiting in line below. That easily could have started a riot, but people behaved themselves for the most part. Lydia thought that guy was a douche, but I think she was just sour that she didn't catch any of the dollars.

Groupon had a small presence with a photo booth, passing out horsey hats, and witty signs plastered here and there.

 I spent most of the day lounging and watching the human circus unfold before me. I saw not one single horse.  There are a couple of races after the actual Derby, at which time most people left. We took that opportunity to bet on a race. We lost.

Made sure to get my mint julep cup.

 The aftermath.

In the end it was a fun but pretty trying experience. I'm upset enough about the line situation to write a letter and ask for a refund. I'll update everyone on the response. I think I've seen enough of the Kentucky Derby for a while. Luckily the rest of the trip was a lot more fun.

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