Sunday, May 03, 2009
The Kentucky Derby - High Holy Day of our Civil Religion
Yesterday I began my quest to see the top 50 things that every Kentuckian should see before 50 with everyone's number one choice, the Kentucky Derby. I passed up the wild-youth infield and the horse-serious paddock to be in the land of fancy hats.
I got a real seat, albeit the Seat Farthest Out.
I get a good look at the final turn in an early race.
We were well situated for the start of the Derby.
Still, what I spent hours doing was walking through the crowds and lounging in the congregation points, watching all classes of Derby-goers go by.
Many people enjoyed $9 juleps. I was surrounded by cigar smoke, coming from women and men. And gambling all day long, in every level and corner of Churchill Downs. None of those things were my cup of tea, but I appreciate them as part of the ritual. And the gambling pays most of the bills.
What I liked were the hats. I started to take pictures, but there were literally thousands of great ones. I gave up and just appreciated. Derby hats seem to me to be a rare and innocent pleasure.