by Sheila Ash

A Louisville Metro Councilman is hoping to keep all of Waterfront Park free and open for this year’s Thunder Over Louisville.

Derby Festival officials changed the seating rules this year to charge visitors to sit in one portion of the park. About ten percent of the Great Lawn will be fenced off for this year’s fireworks show. Visitors will need a Pegasus Pin to enter the area.

Festival president Mike Berry told a Metro Council committee Tuesday the change will stop early visitors from staking large claims in the lawn and blocking others from getting the best views. The sales of the pins will offset the cost of guarding the area.

“This was not just those of us who are behind the scenes in Thunder. I think the public was realizing as well that there were challenges when it comes to this area and the civility,” he said. “Safety and security is always the most important part of our events.”

Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson says it’s unfair to charge people to visit the park, and he told Berry he wants to find a way around the fee.

“For the $20,000 cost I hope to talk to my colleagues to see if we might be able to off-set that to where you all might consider still fencing off the area if that’s the security concern but at the same time still making it free to those in this area that otherwise would like to go but maybe discouraged by that additional family charge,” he said.

The money would likely come out of the council members’ discretionary funds.

Pegasus Pins cost $4 in advance and $5 at the gate.

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