Friday will mark the 10th anniversary of the day the Big E fell.

At 9:03 a.m. that Sunday, several hundred people watched from the south side of West Second Street as a series of loud explosions rocked the 32-year-old Executive Inn Rivermont, once the showplace of western Kentucky.

Between 80 and 100 boats filled with people watched from the Ohio River.

Then, it all came crashing down.

Except for an elevator shaft that still stood -- some people said -- like a rude hand gesture from the rubble.

There were cheers from the crowd.

And there were tears.

If you weren't there that day, Google "Executive Inn Rivermont" and "implosion."

You'll find several videos of the implosion.

Mayor Ron Payne had pushed the button to set off the explosion.

"It's an exciting day but a sad day," he said. "But it's not about what's coming down. It's about what will be coming up. It's time to rebuild."

And rebuild we did.

The Hampton Inn & Suites, the Owensboro Convention Center, the Kentucky Legend Pier and the Holiday Inn are all on that property today.

And there's room for more development.

Yes, it was sad to see the once-grand hotel, the biggest and best Owensboro had ever seen, destroyed.

Her glory days were long past.

But they should never be forgotten.

The Big E was a major stop for up-and-coming country musicians and legends as well through the years.

And the International Bluegrass Music Association came of age in her corridors.

Memories are just ghosts.

And they flitted through the hotel in those last minutes.

Tammy Wynette slips into a booth in the Showroom Lounge to watch Conway Twitty on stage.

Red Skeleton sits alone at a table in the Patio Dining Room.

Henny Youngman fires off a volley of one-liners to women who crowd around his table, laughing at jokes older than they are.

Wayneiacs line the hall leading back to the Showroom Lounge, hoping Wayne Newton will walk past and stop for a moment.

And then, it was all gone.

Downtown is so much better today than it was then.

But it doesn't have memories like those.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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