The Republic Bank Pegasus Parade has been a long-standing tradition in Louisville for the past 59 years. The march down Broadway has become a staple in the Louisville community, as well as tradition among families and friends. One family in particular not only attends the parade but was at the helm of its founding. Three generations of the Jones family have helped to pave the way for a successful parade, and this year, give us a glimpse of what it was like in the early years.
Anna Lee Deerr worked at the Chamber of Commerce in Louisville in the 1950’s and witnessed the birth of an idea that has grown to become a very large event. A perspective otherwise unknown, until speaking with Ana Lee, was the original reason for the parade to begin with. To our fortune, Ana Lee was able to share some of what she witnessed. “The parade came about as a way to help promote the Kentucky Derby. We wanted people to come early for the parade and stay for the race. A bigger and better parade would be better to promote the Kentucky Derby. This would help bring in more people and make better income for the city.”
With the thought of economic success on the mind, the Chamber of Commerce launched a parade hoping for the best and charging forward to help the city benefit from the long-standing Kentucky Derby horse race. “The parade was always on Broadway except we didn’t have seats, people came out but it wasn’t a very large crowd, a respectable one, but not very large. It was only after a few years that it really took off and slowly became what it is today.” Ana Lee was on the floats for the first 2-3 years but the real star of the show was her brother, Charles M. “Pat” Jones.
Charles M. “Pat” led the parade in 1956 on his trusty steed, Silver, a white horse of which he bought from Dixie Stables. Pat Jones’s wife, Erma Jones Greer brought her children Patty, Gary, and Becky to the parade and remembers fondly sitting on the curb watching her husband lead the parade down Broadway. Erma reflected on the first parade. “It was mostly horses, not many floats. It started on 9th and Broadway and went east. The next year I was pregnant and my son was born on the day of the parade. Needless to say the parade was a huge part of our family in the 1950s.” Pat & Erma’s daughter, Patty Jones Adwell worked at Brown & Williamson and participated in the parade as a float handler.
Charles and Anna Lee brought their family out in support of the parade. Whether it was participating in the parade or supporting on the sidelines, everyone in the family supported in any way they could. The Jones family did a great service to the city of Louisville and truly impacted the history and culture of the Kentucky Derby Festival. After 59 years, the Pegasus Parade is truly a family tradition.