Kentucky Derby Festival dedicates first bench at Trager Park, honoring past board chair Penny McTighe

Steve Jones

Spalding University’s Trager Park is still brand new, but one corner of it already has a lasting touch, thanks to the Kentucky Derby Festival and the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation.

The Kentucky Derby Festival, whose offices are across the street from Trager Park on the south end of campus, made the first bench dedication at the new park on Wednesday, honoring 1999 KDF Board Chairwoman Penny McTighe, who passed away in 2016.

KDF President and CEO Mike Berry wore McTighe’s 1999 KDF Pegasus Pin on Wednesday as he led a group of about 25 staff and board members in a ceremony to celebrate her legacy as well as KDF’s relationship with Spalding.

Berry said KDF employees are grateful for the new park, which opened last November at the corner of South Second and West Kentucky streets as a student recreational area and community green space.

The 2.2-acre park site had been an unused asphalt lot before it was transformed by Spalding, in partnership with the Trager Family Foundation and Louisville Gas and Electric Company.

Berry said his staff looks forward to walking to the park to take a break and “just sit down and enjoy a beautiful afternoon like this.”

“It’s so great to have green space here,” Berry said. “A lot of meetings that we have are think tanks to try to think about how to fix an event or create a new one, so to have a space to go to and actually sit outside and think, it’s like a huge, great break room. And because the Festival’s events tend to be outdoors, tend to be in green spaces …  it just made sense to honor one of our past chairwomen in that way. We’ve taken the dollars that people gave in Penny’s memory (to the KDF Foundation) to be able to do this and hopefully provide a place for people to sit and enjoy the space.”

McTighe’s nephew, Chad McTighe, who is a member of the KDF Foundation board, said the park bench is a fitting way to honor his aunt, who always enjoyed being outdoors and sitting in her backyard garden.

“The way she was, this is perfect,” Chad McTighe said. “She would absolutely love this type of spot.”

The black metal bench honoring McTighe, who was also a former KDF Foundation board chair, bears a plaque with her name and KDF affiliation. It is located in the southwest corner of the park that is closest to the KDF office.

Trager Park will be showcased Oct. 5-6 when Spalding hosts its inaugural Founders’ Weekend Fall Festival, with food, vendors and games in the park.

To help support Trager Park and Spalding’s ongoing greening initiative, contact Loren Carlson at [email protected] or 502-873-4317.

Flower sit on black metal bench with a plaque that reads "Penny McTighe, 1999 Kentucky Derby Festival Chair, Donated by the KDF Foundation"
This bench, donated by the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation in honor of Penny McTighe, 1999, KDF board chair, was the first to be dedicated at Trager Park.