And they're off. Colorul hats and cheering crowds at the First Annual Run For the Roses Kentucky Derby Party at the Elizabethan Gardens

What’s not to like about the Kentucky Derby—mint juleps, hats as works art and 143 years of tradition. 

And a little bit of that tradition came to the Outer Banks on race day at the First Annual Run For the Roses Kentucky Derby Party at the Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island.

A fundraiser for the Elizabethan Gardens, the Dare Education Foundation and the Beach Food Pantry, Saturday was a day of elegance and fun.

The Outer Banks is not noted as a place that dresses up very often, so when the opportunity comes along, the results can be spectacular. And the hats were spectacular. Perhaps the hats began as a basic design, but after adding multi-colored ribbons, miniature horses in some cases, flowers and patterns of every sort, the hats were transformed into millinery art.

An outdoor event, it was held on the great lawn of the Elizabethan Gardens. With champagne and mint juleps being served and white tablecloths on the tables, there was wonderful sense of elegance to the day…as well as a wink and a nod to how much fun the day was.

Of course it was all about the Run for the Roses and with wide screen TVs around the Green there was a bit of the real feeling of a trip to the races. As the horses came down the homestretch, no one was going to catch Always Dreaming but imploring voices still urged favorite mounts on.

And as Always Dreaming crossed the finish line, just as it is at the race track, there were cries of jubilation and moans of disappointment.

The day, though, was not a disappointment. According to Carl Curnutte, the Executive Director of the Elizabethan Gardens, the generosity of the Outer Banks was proven once again. He didn’t have a final figure, but he did say it exceeded all expectations.