Notes fron the Tour of Louisville on July 4 th.
Pronounce Louisville like a native. Looavull? Luhvul? Lewisville? Looaville? Looeyville? Louisville?
There are at least 32 colleges in Kentucky. Each has a set of colors and an animal as a symbol. Do you have this is Sweden? The University of Louisville is located here. Itís colors are Black and red and itís symbol is a red bird called a Cardinal. The University of Kentucky is located in Lexington, where you will be Sunday evening. Itís colors are blue and white and itís symbol is a mountain cat called a wildcat. The symbols are everywhere. Look out the window and shout if you see one of these symbols. I have a prize for the first one who sees one.
Today is the 4 th of July. It is the day in 1776 when a group of men signed a document declaring our independence from England. For Americans, it is a very special day. We will celebrate that this evening with fireworks.
Louisville is located along the Ohio River, a river that runs from the mountains in the east to the Mississippi River. It is located here because of the falls of the Ohio, a series of rapids that kept boats from going further down river. You had to get off and move everything around them by land; a process called "portage." Today the falls are confined to just one that comes over a concrete embankment about 4 meters high. It can still destroy small boats that get too close. Now days there are a series of dams along the river with locks to get the boats through. You will see that river this evening when we go to see the fireworks show.
The city of Louisville was named for King Louis the 16 th of France, who helped the USA in 1778. It was founded by the Revolutionary War hero, George Rogers Clark, as part of his campaign in the old Northwest territory. In 1778, George brought some settlers here as a cover for his REAL mission - the taking of 3 critical forts from the British. Kentucky didnít split off from Virginia to become the 15 th state until 1792, 14 years later. Louisville is now the 16 th largest city in the USA.
George Rogers Clarkís younger brother was William Clark, the Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition which began 200 years ago this year. Williamís grandson, Meriwether Lewis Clark, Junior, was the founder of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The Derby is run on the first Saturday in May and is the oldest US horse race run consecutively since 1875. This yearís winner was Funny Cide, the first time that a gelding has won since Clyde Van Dusen 74 years ago in 1929. Funny side won the Preakness but did not win the Belmont. We have not had a triple crown winner since Affirmed did it in 1979.
There are several weeks of celebration before the Derby, called the Derby Festival. The Belle of Louisville is an old rear wheel steamboat that still runs tours up the Ohio River. During the Festival, the Belle races other steamboats. Even against larger boats, the Belle is able to compete, winning more than 12 times. Other Festival events include a baloon race, a mini- marathon foot race, a parade and a fireworks display the largest in the world.