It was a typical warm, lazy spring day when a man named Raymond “Potsie” Wimberg made one of his frequent trips to The Courier-Journal Sports Department to see sports editor Earl Ruby and spring one of his most recent ideas his fertile mind had conjured up.
Wimberg was in the restaurant supply business. He sold pots and pans from his business on South Shelby Street, just a few blocks from where I typed this on a computer in The Voice-Tribune’s new home.
Such things as the Kentucky State Fairgrounds, one of the ideas he planted in the head of a neighbor, Lt. Gov. Lawrence Wetherby, who took it to Gov. Earle Clements and made it happen.
Big name sports columnists from New York City who came to write about the Kentucky Derby complained about nothing to do at night the week before the Run for the Roses.
Ruby got the Binghams, who owned The C-J, to sponsor The Courier-Journal Derby Party on Thursday night of Derby Week. When the costs went through the roof of the Kentucky Hotel, Churchill Downs took over the Derby party, but for years it was known as The Courier-Journal Derby Party.
That spring afternoon in the C-J Sports Department, Ruby rubbed his bald head, which he usually did when someone was trying to sell him on an idea.
When Wimberg left, Ruby came out of his office and said, “Now Potsie wants the paper to sponsor a Derby parade.”
So Ruby went to his bosses at The C-J and got encouragement from them. Ruby was then and always had been the most popular sports columnist in Kentucky. If he favored something, you could bet on it happening.
Ruby joined Wimberg in getting the support of The C-J’s promotions director Basil Caummisar. Rube, as Wimberg called Ruby, recruited D.A. Sachs III and Addison McGhee. The parade started the following spring of 1956.
It wasn’t nearly as big and impressive as it has become under the sponsorship of Republic Bank, but it always has attracted huge, appreciative crowds.
And I’m appreciative of Potsie. We all should be.
Please remember two days before next week’s Derby when you are enjoying the Republic Bank Pegasus Parade either in person, hanging out of a window, or watching on WAVE, think of Raymond “Potsie” Wimberg.
Republic Bank Pegasus Parade
When: 5 p.m. May 3.
Route: West on Broadway from Campbell to 9th.
Tickets: Bleacher tickets $9 and chair seating $11. Review stand seating $26.
Theme: “Family, Fun & Games.”
Grand Marshal: Cindy Lauper.
Honorary Grand Marshal: University of Kentucky Men’s Head Basketball Coach John Calipari and his staff.
Media Partner: Broadcast live on WAVE 3.
Photos Courtesy of RYAN ARMBRUST | www.SniperPhotography.com