It may come as a surprise to outsiders of the Louisville community to know that there will be two major celebrations besides the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012 -- and they do not have a horse focus. The first tradition is deeply rooted in the historically black neighborhood of Louisville called the West End. The 2012 Kentucky Derby also coincides with the Mexican Independence Day celebration of Cinco de Mayo.
Combined, the West End annual Kentucky Derby Weekend Cruising and the local Mexican community celebrating Cinco de Mayo means a triple action weekend of intense festivities inside and outside of Louisville.
Did the mayor shut down Derby Cruising forever?
In 2006, Louisville was outraged when Mayor Jerry Abramson decided to crack down on Kentucky Derby cruising in the West End. This informal event is a free street party that parades hot rods, antique cars, low-riders, and other transportation design feats. Thankfully, Derby Cruising on Broadway will be a reality for Saturday, May 5.
Tourists are welcome to join others on Broadway in Downtown and the adjacent West End to attend this row of parties. As a local, I highly recommend that tourists start walking West on Broadway around Preston Street and continue until you find the action. You know you have gone too far when you end up at the river. Due to the informal nature of the barbecues and festivities, visitors should bring cash in small denominations.
Included in this year's Downtown motor focus is Commonwealth Motorcycle's Kentucky Derby Days Open House on May 3-5 near the historic Derby Cruising areas at 625 East Jefferson in Louisville .
Cinco de Mayo celebration in Louisville
Locals in Louisville are wondering if there will be a tequila inspired Mint Julep for the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Agreeing with them, Louisville.com blog writer, Maggie Heely, also asks aloud if there will be a homage to Cinco de Mayo due to their shared calendar date.
Across America, there are plenty of events celebrating the Kentucky Derby versus Cinco de Mayo. Unfortunately, in Louisville, it looks like the Kentucky Derby is dominating the scene. If there are any specific parties for Cinco de Mayo being held in Louisville on May 5, their presence is not found online in English or Spanish.
Regardless, you are likely to see participants at the track wearing Mexico's flag draped around their shoulders as they enjoy the Kentucky Derby.
Where to find Kentucky Derby parties
Visitors to Louisville for the 2012 Kentucky Derby may wonder where locals will be partying. In particular, Louisville.com, Metromix Louisville, the LEO, and the Louisville Paper all have event listings with a range of music, dining, and parties. Whether you are looking for something fancy or informal, you can guarantee that Louisville will not disappoint you on May 5.
As part of the "Keep Louisville Weird" focus of local businesses, it is likely that some parties will be memorable. However, unlike a Las Vegas weekend or Mardi Gras, residents of Louisville like to party with elegance. For this reason, do not be surprised if locals tell you to tone down your behavior -- and force you to let them drink the rest of your Mint Julep for safe-keeping.
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Maryam Louise is a longtime resident of the Bluegrass State and has lived in the shadows of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky over the past two decades. In addition to being a fan of horse racing, she has also had a chance to get to know jockeys, horse groomers, and betting clerks as an ESL instructor. Currently, she writes forKentuckyDerby.org and relies on her friends in the multiple facets of the equine industry for writing inspiration.