Louisville's 'Sidewalk Derby' Raises $800,000

Gallopalooza, the city of Louisville's public art project, featuring decorated fiberglass horse statues, raised $800,000 for regional charities and city beautification.

The year-long project, which wrapped up Nov. 1 with an online auction, featured 223 colorful horses decorated and sponsored by local artists and businesses.

The horses, many celebrating Kentucky Derby winners, were displayed throughout the metro area from April until a live auction at the city's Palace Theater Oct. 23.

"This project has been everything we hoped for and more," said Jason Vincent, spokesman for Gallopalooza and Brightside, a metro government agency dedicated to community beautification, which oversaw the project. "The response we've had has been not only locally in the region and across the state, but across the nation."

In all, 50 horses were sold to sponsoring businesses, 51 were sold at live auction, and the remaining 121 were sold in an online auction Oct. 1-Nov. 1. One horse was "scratched" from the auction due to rain damage.

Of the auction proceeds, half will go to Brightside The other 50% will be donated to the purchaser's charity of choice. In many cases, purchasers chose Brightside as their charity. In all, the agency will receive $500,000 of the proceeds.

"The project has been amazing, not only in terms of creating such a buzz for Louisville, from the locals and the many visitors that come to our city each year, but also financially it has been wonderful and will enable us to continue our mission of "clean and green" for Louisville," Vincent said.

Brightside will use the funds for city beautification projects, a public relations campaign, and investment in an endowment.

In addition to funds raised from horses auctioned and sponsorships, Brightside will benefit from Gallopalooza merchandise, such as a 192-page full-color book featuring all of the horses in the project.

"We still have monies coming in above and beyond the sale of horses and sponsorships," Vincent said. "We have a lot of merchandise we will also receive a portion of the proceeds from. We're estimating the entire project will raise as much as a $1 million."

The official Gallopalooza Web site, www.gallopaloozaderby.com, featuring photos and merchandise information will be maintained and active for the next year or so, Vincent said.

In 2000, Lexington was the first to have artists decorate horses. There were 79 horses as part of Horse Mania, which raised $757,600 to benefit local arts groups.

In March of 2002, Ocala's Horse Fever auctioned 52 fiberglass horses for $846,000.

With the success of the Gallopalooza, Louisville could see a similar public art project in 2006, Vincent said.

"It's been a great project involving a hardworking committee of 40 individuals in the community and volunteers and it was very much a team effort," he said. "Fortunately the hard work has paid off."