The Kentucky Derby has been described as the most exciting two minutes in sports for over 100 years. In that time, millions of people have witnessed horse racing history unfold before their eyes creating lasting memories that will never fade. Dozens of traditions have been born from the Kentucky Derby, many of which are still practiced and observed today. But where did they all begin, and why do we continue to do them? Below are some of the most famous Derby traditions and their history.
The Garland of Roses
Everyone likes receiving a bouquet of roses, but a garland of roses is even more extravagant. Awarded to the Derby winner, the garland of roses tradition began in 1904 when the rose became the official Derby flower. Its place in Derby had been solidified when Bill Corum, sports columnist referred to the Kentucky Derby as the “Run for the Roses.”
For nearly a centruy, the mint julep has been the official drink of Derby watchers. Now, about 120,000 mint juleps are preapred and served over the two day derby period, adding up to 1,000 pounds of mint, 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail and 60,000 pounds of ice. The classic, but simple recipe has remained the same for this time-honored drink.
My Old Kentucky Home
Kentucky’s State song is memorialized every year at the Derby, and is preformed and played several times throughout out the race days. Since 1936, the song has been regularly performed by the University of Louisville marching band. The song is played as the horses take their starting gates before the race begins, building up pride and tension for the coming race.
The 2012 Kentucky Oaks and Derby takes place on May 4th and 5th and is sure to be packed full with classic traditions. A family trip to the Derby is a guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience, beginning on April 28 and building up all week for the race. At the Kentucky Derby, there is something for everyone. The two sides of the infield for young adults and families, Millionaires Row for visiting celebrities, and pretty much everything in between.