The parade, first held in 1956, is the Derby Festival’s oldest and founding event. It began on a budget of $640 and now provides an impact in excess of $22 million to the local economy.
In 2012, the 57th parade will march down Broadway on May 3 with a theme of “Family, Fun & Games” and promises to be a spectacle of colorful floats, marching bands, giant inflatables, equestrians and celebrities parading down Broadway in downtown Louisville. (Registration to participate in the 2012 Republic Bank Pegasus Parade is closed.)
An estimated 275,000 fans attended the 2011 Republic Bank Pegasus Parade, themed “Heroic Adventures,” which marched down Broadway under beautiful weather conditions. Four Congressional Medal of Honor recipients served as Grand Marshals of the parade. The Grand Marshals were: World War II veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams of West Virginia; Korean War veteran Ernie West of Russell, Ky.; Vietnam War veteran Gary Littrell of Henderson, Ky; and Vietnam War veteran Don Jenkins of Quality, Ky. The members of Bellarmine University’s NCAA Division II men’s national champion basketball team served as Honorary Grand Marshals of the Pegasus Parade.
Other celebrities participating in the parade included Kate Gosselin of TLC’s reality show Kate Plus 8; Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas of VH1’s What Chilli Wants; 2011 Miss America Teresa Scanlan; and professional poker legend Robert Williamson III. The 2011 Pegasus Parade was dedicated to the memory of the late Judy Barcus, who entertained thousands of people as “Ju-Ju” the Clown and was a longtime Derby Festival supporter. Parade volunteers wore clown buttons featuring a photo of Judy and a banner honoring her was carried down the parade route.
Supporters of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky were cheering down the parade route as their float took home the Addison McGhee Sweepstakes Award for best overall float. Hwang’s Martial Arts won the Grand Marshal’s Award; Second Chance@Life won the KDF Board Chair’s Award; and Kosair Charites/Kosair Shriner’s won the President’s Award.
The parade is known for its beautiful equestrian units. Grand Champion Equestrian Unit went to the Kentucky Horse Park Equestrian Team. The first place award for Best Mounted Equestrian Unit went to Young Guns 4-H Equestrian Drill Team. Best Commercial Driven Equestrian Unit went to Wells Fargo; Non-Commercial Driven Unit was awarded to Patriot Hills Equestrian Team. Illinois Valley Central High School won the Grand Prize in the Basil Caummisar Battle of the Bands competition. Derby City Rollers won the Ray Wimberg Specialty Unit Award, LGE’s Louie the Lightning Bug won the Earl Ruby Inflatable Spirit Award and Rocky Mountain Equestrain won the Super Scooper Award.
It is not surprising that the parade is consistently voted as one of Louisville’s favorite events. The parade is a true community asset and generates an economic impact annually of $22 million. More than 90 percent of the route is free public viewing thanks to the sponsorship of Republic Bank.The parade was led by their “Absolutely Pegasus” balloon.