Office of University Communications & Marketing

UNA Launches Inaugural Derby Day Event as Foundation Fund-Raiser
Apr. 16, 2013



By Terry Pace, UNA Communications and Marketing

The University of North Alabama is launching a bright, colorful new town-and-gown tradition showcasing the school’s spirited race for educational excellence.

UNA Derby Day 2013 will take place from 3-6 p.m. Saturday, May 4, on the grounds of historic Coby Hall on the UNA campus. The gala event coincides with the American cultural phenomenon known as the Kentucky Derby, described this year as “the 139th Renewal of the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.”

“Derby Day gives UNA an exciting new signature event centered around the day of the Kentucky Derby,” according to Kim Mauldin, UNA’s Director of Admissions, who is co-chairing the Derby Day steering committee with Johnette Davis, UNA’s Advancement Volunteer Coordinator. Proceeds benefit the UNA Foundation and its efforts to support the university’s institutional goals.

“Derby Day offers a wonderful opportunity for the UNA campus to come together and interact with our alumni as well as friends and supporters in the surrounding community,” Mauldin explained. “This event also helps establish an annual community party here in the Shoals area where people who enjoy the race itself can gather in a social setting to watch the Kentucky Derby and celebrate our area’s rich connection to that tradition.”

The horseracing heritage of the Kentucky Derby can be traced back to an early 19th-century Irish immigrant who became one of the Shoals area’s most prominent and prosperous early citizens.

“James Jackson, one of the founding fathers of Florence, was America’s first breeder of thoroughbreds,” noted UNA President William G. Cale, who is hosting Derby Day with his wife, B.J. “All modern-day thoroughbreds in America are descended from Jackson’s horse, Glencoe, who trained north of the city at the Jackson home called the Forks of Cypress.”

The actual 5:24 p.m. “Run for the Roses” – which takes place each May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky – along with preliminary Kentucky Derby events will be broadcast on big-screen televisions for UNA’s inaugural Derby Day audience.  The event also features a buffet dinner, drinks, games, prizes and other activities.

“The Derby Day experience will provide the excitement of picking your favorite horse and jockey to win, place or show, then watching the race on five large-screen TVs, as if your were at Churchill Downs,” added Stephanie Coleman, a UNA alumnus who is chairing the Derby Day entertainment committee. “Prizes include stays at the Shoals Marriott, dinner at the 360 Grille, spa packages, golf packages, goodies from the French Basket and much more. There will be photo opportunities on the red carpet, plus live music and souvenir UNA Derby Day glasses.” 

UNA alumnus Alisha Haataja, who is chairing the decorations committee, describes the Derby Day atmosphere as “a casual yet elegant feeling with the ambiance of a spring afternoon in the South.” Those who attend are encouraged to wear traditional Derby-themed attire, from colorful hats for the ladies to seersucker suits for the gentlemen. Derby dress is not required, but the traditional Derby spirit will be evident throughout the festivities.

“Expect to have a wonderful time experiencing true Southern style and flavors of the South,” Haataja remarked. “Friends, colleagues and acquaintances can step back into a time where ladies and gentlemen knew how to take time out from their daily work life and celebrate the wonderful bounty we have as Southerners. What better way to celebrate the occasion of Derby Day than in our hometown, with the beauty of Coby Hall and all the rich history surrounding the Shoals?”

Tickets for Derby Day are $100 per person. To purchase tickets, or for more details, call 256-765-4201, e-mail advancement@una.edu or visit una.edu/derbyday.

A high-resolution promotional photo of Derby Day is available in the Photo Gallery on our website, www.una.edu.