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.


Kerri said...

woo! I actually traded places with you for the festivities, since I live down the road from all of it and don't like crowds.
glad it was fun! what's next on the list?

Unknown said...

enjoyed the post, glad you made it to derby.

virginia said...

As a sociologist, do you happen to know why hats fell out of fashion as daily wear? I wish they would make a significant comeback!

Gruntled said...

I like hats as meaningful symbols. Every time I try to take up the custom, though, I am faced with the fact that they are a pain in the neck to maintain, remember, and put somewhere when indoors.

I think the real thing that killed hats was good shampoo.

Gruntled said...

Next stop is probably Mammoth Cave.

yoursister said...

What did you think of the race?

Gruntled said...

I didn't actually see the race until I got home and saw the news. Unless you are quite high up in the center of the track, you can only see about a dozen yards of the race well. When I saw the film of the race, I could see that the winner made a break just after where I was, at the final turn. Even then, though, he made his break on the rail, which we on the outside couldn't see.

Good race, though. I hope they do decide to go on the Preakness.

yoursister said...