Thunder Over Louisville



© THUNDER OVER LOUISVILLE for Photography World @ Photograph by Mina Thevenin




Article by Mina Thevenin

May 2015

Photography by Mina Thevenin

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North America’s largest fireworks display for the past 26 years belongs to Louisville’s: “Thunder Over Louisville”. This is the premier kickoff celebration for three weeks of festivities, all leading to the world’s biggest horse racing event: the Kentucky Derby, which is run on the first Saturday of every May. The Kentucky Derby is the initial leg of the horse racing event known as the “Triple Crown”.

Who is behind the thunder and the engineering of such fireworks? It is the most famous family fireworks company in the world, the Zambelli Fireworks Internationale! Known as the “First Family of Fireworks,” the Zambelli tradition began in Italy in 1893 with fireworker Antonia Zambelli, who brought his mastery to America and established the Pennsylvania Fireworks Manufacturing Company in New Castle. This historical and well-run family tradition and company has since become established as, “a center for America’s fireworks industry.” (1)

“Building on the grand tradition Antonio began, subsequent generations of Zambellis are now known worldwide for setting the industry standard in design and technology – then exceeding it. Today, that Zambelli family heritage continues under the guidance of Antonio’s grandson, George Zambelli Jr., M.D., as Chairman.” (2)


Outdoor fireworks, like Thunder, is a part of the Zambellis production, which also includes show design and close-proximity venues, such as for sporting events, television, movies, concerts, etc. Zambelli Fireworks also enterprises extravaganzas of pyrotechnic special effects that include flame effects, CO2 Cryojet effects, line rockets, and various thrills of fogs, strobes and simulated cannon fire.


Although the booms of Thunder Over Louisville are not simulated, the chest vibrating “thunder” of its spectacular fireworks show did inspire the event’s name. To put on an event of this magnitude, the Zambelli company hauls 60 tons of fireworks shells in eight tractor trailers and the 250 tons of launching tubes included in the event’s physical setup. The tubes can be as tall as 10 feet in height with a diameter of 1½ feet (3.05 meters x 0.46 meters). Firing tubes are packed with two million pounds of sand on 1,800 feet (548.6 meters) of barges. Wire cable connects 20 firing boards and with almost 700 miles (1,126 km) of wire cable, everything is perfectly tied to the command post for the music synchronization. “This is the largest show the Zambellis perform each year”, says the Kentucky Derby Festival. (3) Today, the legacy and coordination of Zambelli Fireworks with the marketing and events company, Visual Presentations, Inc., puts on, the best fireworks experience in North America.

Let the thunder roll!

Click on Any Image to View Photography as a Slideshow/Scroll mouse over image for photo details.  © Cascade of "Waterfall" Fireworks off of the 2nd Street Bridge. THUNDER OVER LOUISVILLE 2015. Photograph by Mina Thevenin @

Thunder-goers beneath the Ohio River’s Kennedy Bridge. A sampling of the 500,000 plus attendees to Thunder Over Louisville- in line for sweet treats of funnel cakes and cotton candy!
© 2015 Thunder Fireworks off Ohio Barge. Photograph by Mina Thevenin THUNDER OVER LOUISVILLE @
Thunder fireworks shot from the barge between Louisville and Jeffersonville, IN on the Ohio River.

© Photograph by Mina Thevenin. THUNDER OVER LOUISVILLE 2015 @ © THUNDER OVER LOUISVILLE. Fireworks off the second street bridge. Photograph by Mina Thevenin @photographyworld.orgDerby Festival 2015- be a part of Derby events with City Taste Tours, the fun way to see Louisville. (Mention Photography World and receive $1 off your tour!)


FUN LOUISVILLE TOURS! by City Taste Tours is Rated tops!
PHOTOGRAPHY WORLD wishes to thank the Guerrero Family for hosting Thunder Over Louisville 2015!

(1) Zambelli Fireworks WEBSITE

(2) Kentucky Derby Festival, Thunder Over Louisville: The Show. WEBSITE

(3) Ibid.


© THUNDER OVER LOUISVILLE. Photography by Mina Thevenin

One thought on “Thunder Over Louisville

  1. Greatly enjoyed reliving Thunder through the surreal photographs and commentary. You are showing our beautiful state in a very positive and intriguing way to others across the world through your shared photographs and thoughts. Thanks so much for sharing both.

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