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The Kentucky Derby Festival’s Pegasus Parade began its 60-mile, socially-distant journey through the rain in Louisville and southern Indiana on Saturday.


The annual parade down Broadway didn’t take place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this year organizers pushed forward an ambitious plan to bring the event to the community by traveling through more than 35 neighborhoods over the weekend.

Earl Hartlage is the owner of the Derby City Express 496, a combination of a steam engine train and a bus that has been featured in parades since 1992.

He said he’s excited to be back in the parade after a year off, but he misses the crowds packed into downtown.

“That’s the good thing about the train: wherever I go, people want on. And I can make their day a little bit lighter,” Hartlage said.

Organizers made good on their promise to hold the parade rain or shine, tying down inflatable figures like Pegasus, the Statue of Liberty and an orange tyrannosaurus rex to keep them from blowing away in the wind and rain on Saturday.

The parade features about 20 units and will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

Aimee Boyd, a spokesperson for the festival, said the organization is happy to put on the parade after a year off.

“It’s so important for us to be able to bring whatever we can to the community to share after everything we’ve all been through,” Boyd said.

“We’re hopeful it gives people something to look forward to, some of that Derby Festival spirit that they enjoy every spring and just kind of bring it to them in many different and unique ways.”

Hartlage, owner of the Derby City Express 496, said he hoped the parade would be another step to getting beyond the pandemic.

“We gotta get back to some kind of normalcy and hopefully we will do that soon,” Hartlage said.

Here’s the parade route for Saturday, which will go through the following neighborhoods:

South Louisville, Shively, Algonquin, Park Duvalle, Parkland, Chickasaw, Shawnee, Portland, Russell, Central Business District (Downtown), and across the Clark Memorial (2nd Street) Bridge into Jeffersonville, IN. 

We’ll update the Sunday parade route here once it becomes available, but it will go through the following neighborhoods:

Saint Joseph, Merriweather, Schnitzelburg, Germantown, Tyler Park, Deer Park, Belknap, Hayfield Dundee, Bashford manor, West Buechel, Newburg, Buechel, Fern Creek, Jeffersontown, Douglass Hills, Middletown and Lyndon.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.