Hoping to get a good look at the Capital Plaza Tower’s implosion, crowds began lining both sides of Kentucky Avenue on Sunday morning.
In fact, people were so eager to catch a glimpse of the event that the street was full by 12:30 p.m. Kentucky Avenue sits across the river from downtown Frankfort and the Capital Plaza Tower.
Betty Dawson, Don Dawson and their daughter, Carrie Klaber, found their spot along Kentucky Avenue around 11 a.m. Leading up to implosion day, the family watched videos of other implosions to get an idea of what Sunday’s event would look like. The family moved to Frankfort in the 1970s.
“To have moved to Frankfort at the time it was built and to sit here and watch it come down, it’s ironic to have been here for both, ” Betty Dawson said.
Seated near the Dawson family was Andy Sailor, who worked on the construction crew that built the tower. His job was to operate a crane. Sailor said seeing the implosion of something he helped build was a one-of-a-kind experience.
“I watched it go up, and hoped I would live to watch it come down,” Sailor said. “I hate to see it go. It’s something that people know Frankfort by.”
Trevor Fravebel, another spectator on Kentucky Avenue, traveled to Frankfort from Lexington on Saturday to scope out the best spot to watch the implosion. Fravebel was hoping to take Lilly Campbell, 9, to Leslie Morris Park to watch the implosion, but it was blocked off. He was glad he had a backup plan at Kentucky Avenue.
But there were more than casual spectators across the river. Seth Carpenter, a seismologist from the University of Kentucky, was there. Carpenter and others were stationed at various places around Frankfort to measure ground motions during the implosion.
“At the same distance away to the south, we have another location. We’ve also set up in the old quarry behind the transportation building to record the shaking in different locations and on different rock types,” Carpenter said.
He measured motion using a sensor and a high-speed camera borrowed from the explosives team at the University of Kentucky. By using information from the sensor and comparing it to what happened on the camera, Carpenter said, he’ll be able to interpret ground motion.
“More from the research side of things, I’ll have a comparison of what’s happening over here, where we are standing on top of old river sediment compared to rock, for example,” he said. “In other words, in this area, if an earthquake were to happen how would the earth be shaking compared to other places.”
Sunday was the first time Carpenter gathered ground motion data at an implosion, he said. Typically, his work is related to earthquakes.
“It was just quick. All of a sudden you saw the charges and saw the smoke come out. Then it was down, all in one piece. It just went down. The dust, oh my gosh, I feel bad for the people who were in the way of it. They had to have been covered. We were just lucky the wind was blowing in the other direction,” said Mary Dee Boemker, whose front yard played host to Carpenter and about a dozen other people.
Janice Lunsford, Boemker’s friend, said she was expecting to hear horns before the implosion began, so she was surprised when the tower began to fall.
“It’ll be interesting to watch what happens with all of the rubble, what they’ll do with it. It’ll make the landscape look different here in Frankfort. So many of us have been here and expect to see the tower. It’s just going to be an adjustment,” Lunsford said.
Her grandson, Adwin McDuffus, 10, wanted to watch the implosion again.
“Once it came down, it looked like dust was flying around everywhere, and the building wasn’t even there in the first place,” Adwin said.
Once the implosion finished, people quickly returned to their cars along Kentucky Avenue. At 1:45 p.m., cars were at a stand-still on the street and most cars had cleared out by 2 p.m.