Love a Parade? Head to J-town

Last year's Parade was a Thriller

The place to be this afternoon, of course, is Jeffersontown, where the big parade goes right by my place. The Gaslight Festival is the 5th largest festival/party in the Southeast, the Chamber brags, and brings in 200,000 people a year, mainly for the Arts and Crafts Fair and Street Party that starts tomorrow.

It’s a hokey parade. The grand marshals this year — members of a 13-under Little League baseball team. Banks and other businesses hand out candy, and Mayor Bill Dieruf and members of the City Council act like big shots riding on top of convertibles. Other kids groups join in, and I saw that if I wanted to , I could have walked in the parade with a group from the Louisville Athletic Club and gotten a free t-shirt. Years ago, I walked in the parade with the J-town Youth Football Program.

Last year, of course, there was a big local election. Hal Heiner hustled up and down the street shaking hands, and the local mayor’s race between incumbent Mayor Clay Foreman and Dieruf was in full force. Dieruf won, and the shamed Foreman went on to work his good ole boy network to get a cushy job with the state running Sawyer Park.

The weekend party, which features live bands (Sparechange Millionaire on Friday and Kirby’s Dreamland on Saturday), shuts down at the early hour of 11 — pretty early for a night out on the town, and pretty good news for my friend Mike Messex, who owns the bar behind the Moby Dick that used to be called Blue Mule. Mike recently changed the name of the place to Kirkwood’s, and has brought in some upgraded food service, including the former Jockamo’s operators.

Last year, the Blue Mule was absolutely packed, especially after the official party on the square ended. Mike’s expecting a big weekend again.

There’s also a Balloon Glow at Skyview Park on Friday night, and a car show on Sunday. And the oldest tradition of Gaslight — the pipe-smoking contest, is Saturday.