By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Derby hats, mint juleps and horse races were the order of the day at the Catholic Enrichment Center (CEC) on April 30.
The Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministry hosted its 11th annual senior “Pre-Derby Extravaganza” at the CEC, 3146 West Broadway.
The annual Derby-season event, which drew more than 300 people, featured celebrity stick horse races and a Derby hat contest.
M. Annette Mandley-Turner, executive director of the Office of Multicultural Ministry, said programs for seniors, such as the Derby event, are designed for those who are retired but who are still “productive citizens.”
“We provide an opportunity for them to become more engaged socially, more engaged in their faith and it also serves as an opportunity for them to network,” Mandley-Turner said.
Supporting the elderly was the main reason Nila Thomas attended the event, but she said it was also a good excuse to wear a hat.
“I brought some elderly ladies out that don’t have transportation,” Thomas said.
Thomas, who wore a flouncy black and white hat, participated in the hat contest. Prizes were awarded for the most artistic, most outrageous and most “Derby-flair” hats.
A curator from the Kentucky Derby Museum also gave a presentation about the history of jockeys, particularly African American jockeys.
Evelyn Glass, radiant in a kaleidoscope of color from head to toe, said she found the presentation by the curator compelling.
“I really enjoyed hearing the history (of the jockeys). It was excellent,” she remarked.
Glass, who is 95 years old and a parishioner of Christ the King Church, said she has attended the event every year it’s been offered. She’s even won the hat contest three times, she added.
Marilyn Montgomery Crider was part of a group of 10 ladies from the Sun Valley Community Center in Valley Station who attended the extravaganza.
Crider, originally from the West End, said she has ties to the CEC that date back to the 1950s. She attended classes at the former Holy Cross School, which is the building in which the CEC is now housed.
Her husband, Ray, proposed to her in the parking lot between the school and the old Holy Cross Church, now St. Martin de Porres Church. And the two were married in Holy Cross Church.
“I haven’t stepped foot in this building since then. It’s really nice to see that it’s still here. It’s kept up very well,” Crider said. “It brings back a lot of memories.”
Crider, who grew up a couple of blocks over on 32nd Street, praised the efforts of the CEC and said she had nothing but fond memories of her childhood in the West End though she decried the recent outbreaks of violence in her former neighborhood.
“It was such a great place to grow up. There was a lot to do. We walked every place we went,” she said.
Dawne Gee of WAVE-3 served as the event’s emcee.