Allison Gousha doesn’t sleep much the first week of May. As Kroger’s long-time Derby Event Coordinator, she clocks hundreds of hours leading up to Derby so that the Oaks and Derby-winning horses’ personal “trophies” – the respective garlands of lilies and roses – are perfect in every way.
“I dedicate three full weeks just to garland time,” she explained. “It takes that long to put it all together, from working on the garlands, the sewing, the greenery, and of course, the flowers. Once the flowers arrive, I never leave their side. I monitor them, nurture them, check the temperature, water them and make sure they are safe. From the time the garland is made, it is always me and an armed security guard watching over it. On race day, we have 30 Marines join us to keep the garland safe. It’s unlike any other trophy for any other sporting event.”