The Honorary Homer Fink Kentucky Derby Gala at the Bell House

Neigh-ing tribute: Kentucky Derby party to honor Homer Fink

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The two most exciting minutes in sports just got even better!

The organizer of an annual Kentucky Derby party in Gowanus is using this year’s bash to celebrate a beloved Brooklyn blogger who recently passed away. The “Honorary Homer Fink Kentucky Derby Gala” at the Bell House on May 2 will honor John Loscalzo, who wrote under the pseudonym Homer Fink on the long-running Brooklyn Heights Blog and who died suddenly on April 1. Loscalzo was a big fan of the run for the roses, and was a fixture of the yearly party that now bears his name, said the organizer.

“The whole day meant a lot to him and his father,” said William Crane, a Ditmas Park resident who had known Loscalzo for years and had worked with him on some local game shows. “I felt there was no better way to immortalize him then to name the party he loved after him.” Crane will also dedicate the bash’s “best-dressed man” award to Loscalzo, who always came in a snappy outfit, Crane said.

“He dressed like an old-school bookie on Derby day,” said Crane.

Fancy duds are not mandatory, but party-goers are “strongly encouraged” to don their best pastel-colored seersucker suits, frilly dresses, and floppy hats, said Crane. Some work on their outfits, especially the hats, for weeks, he said.

“People really pull it all out for this party,” said Crane, who plans on sporting a loud sports coat, hat, and tie.

Crane said the snappy outfits and storied history of the Kentucky Derby inspire a more genteel atmosphere than other sporting events.

“Unlike most sports parties a la the Super Bowl where everyone acts the idiot, the Derby invokes one’s inner gentleman and tends to keep the shenanigans at bay,” he said.

But it isn’t all about the outfits. The Bell House will project the race on two 23-foot screens in two rooms. And there will also be a simulated race in-house, featuring a giant wheel and on-screen cartoon horses.

About 400 well-dressed ladies and gents are expected to gallop into the Bell House for the party this year, said Crane, who trucks in nearly 1,000 pounds of crushed ice for mint juleps. Smokey’s Round-Up, featuring legendary six-stringer Smokey Hormel, will play live western swing music. And right before race, the band will lead everyone in a rousing rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home,” which is traditionally sung at post time and is also the official state song of Kentucky — adding an air of authenticity to the festivities.

“Our party is stepped in tradition,” said Crane.

The 141st Run for the Roses: The Honorary Homer Fink Kentucky Derby Gala at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third streets in Gowanus, (718) 643–6510,]. May 2 at 2–8 pm. $10.

Not enough julep-drinking, fancy-hat-wearing action for you? Read about five more Kentucky Derby parties around Brooklyn.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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