As almost anyone who has been to the Kentucky Derby infield before can attest, there are plenty of rookie mistakes to be made. Here's a list of some of the obvious and not so obvious gaffes to look out for and make the most of your virgin voyage:
- Sunscreen: When the equation amounts to alcohol + good times + an entire day in the sun, whiskey offers little to no SPF value so wear sunscreen. Plus, your Derby stories will look a lot cooler if you don't return looking like a lobster.
- Meeting place: Before anyone in your group leaves the parking lot you should set a meeting place and time afterwards for anyone who gets lost. It can be pretty easy to get separated or lost in the crowd and you shouldn't solely rely on texts or calls at 7 p.m. to get lost members of your group back on track.
- Mint juleps: If you're 21 and not driving, have at it. But be warned: if you've never had a julep before, brace yourself for the first sip because it's probably not going to taste how you think it will. You will get the hang of it, though.
- Multiple mint juleps: If you have more than 3 of these on your first go, beware that when you return to normal life, if you brush your teeth with mint flavored toothpaste, your mouth and mind may experience a flashback to the julep's signature flavor even days later.
- Bourbon: Experts will tell you bourbon is meant to be sipped. You definitely don't want to attempt to chug a julep merely to get to the next one or to skip over the flavor.
- Partying hard: Derby Day is a marathon, not a sprint and you will eventually need to get home somehow. Have fun but remember from time to time the driver who got you there does not want to leave you in Kentucky...but the thought may seriously cross his or her mind at some point.
- Sleep: If you party hard enough and fall asleep in the infield, make sure it's among friends and it's in a safe place. Also, if you see one of your friends sleeping and the Derby race itself is coming up, it's practically mandatory to wake your friend up for the final race.
- Bathrooms: That ruckus above your head while using a portable toilet is likely two people racing each other across the tops of rows of toilets. Yes, it's somewhat of a tradition (not a recommended one, though).
- Horses: In the infield, between overcrowding, bad sight lines and some people who arrive early, sit right up against the fence, and block off their area with overhead tarps that prevent people from seeing, you don’t get a big opportunity to see the racing. That's when any alternate infield plans come in handy.
- New friends: If you can’t see the horses, don’t just sit around watching mud fights or waiting to fall asleep. It’s a big, diverse crowd, so take some time on Saturday to mingle and make new friends who you will likely forget in 3-4 hours.
- Open-toed shoes: It might get hot outside but open toed shoes are not entirely advisable. The mint julep glasses can be amazing gifts or souvenirs but if your fellow infielders who have had one (or seven) too many juleps drop the glasses, they will shatter and make for very unpleasant hazards for people in sandals.
- Swine flu: It'll probably be a good idea to bring some sort of hand sanitizer to the infield since it is considered by many to be one of the dirtiest places around on the first Saturday of May.
- Warm sweater: Finally, make sure when you're packing to add an extra hooded sweatshirt or something warm and keep it entirely separate from anything that could possibly get rained on or soaked by beer. If the shirt stays dry and warm it will be a lifesaver come Sunday morning.
So go live it up and have a happy Derby Day.