My BIL, SIL, 2 neices, three nephews, a couple of friends and I spent from 2pm on Friday afternoon until 7:30 Saturday morning sitting in the courtyard at Churchill Downs waiting to draw two tickets each to the Kentucky Derby for this year!! When we first got there, we were only allowed to park outside the gates to CD, so everyone got out of their cars and stood around or sat if they had chairs and just talked and got to know the people around them. It was a pretty festive group because everyone there was just about having fun and getting to go to the Derby! Shortly before the gates opened, three buses pulled up filled with homeless people. Some not so nice guys hired them to be place holders so they could buy a lot more tickets to sell at a profit. (Everyone was only allowed to pull one pair of tickets each.) Some of us got nervous as soon as we saw the buses.
At about six Friday evening, they opened the gates and we were allowed to drive in and get our things (chairs, blankets,coolers, etc) and form a line in the courtyard to get our places. They only had 500 pairs of tickets to the Derby and another 210 pairs of tickets to the Kentucky Oaks which is run the day before. Well, when these homeless people saw that we were going to be staying in a covered, but otherwise outside spot overnight, and they had nothing - no jackets, blankets, chairs, they were pretty unhappy. The group just behind us was rolling and smoking pot right out in the open. Apparently there were others selling dope in the restrooms and breaking into the places they were not supposed to go.
By 9 Friday evening, I was pretty unhappy that I had made the choice to do this. I thought that the crowd was getting uglier and uglier and that it was going to blow. If my nephews and BIL hadn't been there, I would have left.
Well at about 10pm someone must have done something really bad or really stupid enough that it got the attention of the security cops that were trying to control the crowd. The head security officer made an announcement that all those folks that had ridden the buses should get their things together and proceed out to the buses. If they did not, they would lose their rides home because the buses were to leave. EVERYBODY got very quiet - you can't believe how that sounded in a crowd of 700 people, you could have heard a pin drop. One of the not so nice guys came up to the group that was near us, and gave them the DON"T MOVE, OR ELSE LOOK, and the group just stood there scared to death. The tension was incredible. Something happened, and one of the homeless pointed out one of the bosses, and the cop pulled him aside. He must have told him to leave now free, or leave later in handcuffs, because he gave a signal, and all of the people started walking out. The radio said later that they removed over 100 homeless people out of that crowd.
You can't imagine the difference in the atmosphere after they left!! Everyone calmed down, and just started enjoying the experience again. It was so funny, we all were so tense that we were very cold, but after they left, it didn't feel nearly so cold!!
The rest of the night went fun, I had some stitching, and we played cards, and a couple of the younger folks went out and got us pizza. They did end up locking the outside gates around midnight so that no one else could come in, so that stopped our food runs.
The final thing is, we all made it in to pull our tickets, and several of us will end up in the same section on Derby day!! That will be so much fun. I don't think I will do this again next year, but who knows - I have done crazy things before!!