Keeneland

'Thriller' parade will launch Breeders' Cup Festival; volunteers needed for cleanup

Amber Luallen, Thriller Parade organizer for the Division of Parks and Recreation, looked thrilled herself Thursday that the annual event will kick off the Breeders' Cup Festival despite the presence of zombies at the news conference.
Amber Luallen, Thriller Parade organizer for the Division of Parks and Recreation, looked thrilled herself Thursday that the annual event will kick off the Breeders' Cup Festival despite the presence of zombies at the news conference. LFUCG

In preparation for the Breeders' Cup festival at the end of this month, Lexington is spiffing up downtown and key road corridors around Keeneland. But the city needs volunteers for last-minute cleanup efforts close to the start of the festival.

"We've got everything from a Thriller parade to a thrilling stretch run down the track at Keeneland," Mayor Jim Gray said at a news conference Thursday to push cleanup initiatives. "Throughout the week — Oct. 24 to 31 — the days are packed with music, racing, food and fun."

The festival week will start with the annual and popular Thriller parade — the re-enactment of Michael Jackson's Thriller video down Main Street, beginning at 8 p.m. Oct. 25, a Sunday.

"Zombies" invaded the stage during Thursday's news conference at the Fifth Third Cheapside Pavilion, as Amber Luallen, a parks department employee who helps organize the Thriller parade, came to the podium. In addition, a "zombie horse" and a headless horseman stalked the stage Thursday.

"We have such a local fan base ... for this event, we hope to share this wonderful experience and phenomenon with race visitors," Luallen said.

But zombies and their followers can cause chaos and a mess.

Volunteers are needed for a final downtown "tidy up" event on Monday, Oct. 26. People can dress as zombies or in Halloween costumes for the cleanup events. From 9 a.m. to noon, America in Bloom and the city's Parks and Recreation department will spruce up flower beds around Short Street. From 1 to 4 p.m., volunteers are needed to clean up downtown from Thoroughbred Park to Triangle Park.

Angela Poe, a spokeswoman for the city, said people can sign up to volunteer or find out more about the efforts at the city's Live Green Lexington Facebook page.

In addition, beautification efforts that include additional trees, flowers, bushes and grass are being planted on key roads, including Versailles Road, Man o' War Boulevard, Newtown Pike and Oliver Lewis Way. Those "green-up" initiatives should be completed by the end of this week, said Jim Pendergest, chairman of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. The commission is using a combination of private and city funds for the new landscaping. The landscaping will remain after the Breeders' Cup celebration, Pendergest said.

The lineup for the festival — which has been previously announced — can be found at Breederscupfestival.com.

Visitors will be greeted with the sounds of the Bluegrass as soon as they step off the plane, said Eric Frankl, executive director of the Blue Grass Airport. Bluegrass bands will play at the airport throughout the week of Oct. 24 to 31, and staffers will hand out bourbon balls.

Thanks to a caller on a radio program, the airport is switching its siren or bell at baggage claim — typically used to alert passengers when bags are being loaded onto the baggage carrousel — to the familiar bugle sound of the call to the post.

Gray said a caller named Stan had suggested the call to the post idea when Gray was on a local radio talk show. "I don't know his last name," Gray said. But Gray said he would like "Stan the Man" to call the mayor's office so he can give him proper credit for the idea.

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