Crowd of 300,000 watch the IPL 500 Festival Parade

Thousands lined the streets of Indianapolis to watch the drivers, celebrities, floats and balloons of the IPL 500 Festival Parade on May 26, 2018. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
IPL 500 Festival Parade
Parade Celebrities
Parade 8am Sunrise
IPL 500 Festival Parade Hour 2

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — The rain held off for the thousands in attendance at the IPL 500 Festival Parade on Saturday. Actors, singers and marching bands joined IndyCar drivers in the build-up to the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

The annual parade marched down Pennsylvania Street in Indianapolis, turned onto Washington Street before heading north up Meridian Street.

“We like to bring the grandkids, come down and bring enough food and drinks to last us ‘til Monday,” said Wayne Johnson, who lives in Greenwood. “We love to come and watch the parade and the kids enjoy it and we enjoy it. It’s just a wonderful time to celebrate our country.”

Families kept their eyes on the sky for most of Saturday morning, as people protected themselves from stray raindrops before the parade and then struggled to find shade during the event.

After the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School on Friday, parade organizers included a moment of silence.

“There’s way too much violence going on, period,” said Jane Johnson, who lives in Greenwood. “Not only in schools, but everywhere.”

“Being so close to home, it just makes sense that we do something to make sure we were recognizing that and taking that time out,” said 500 Festival President and CEO Bob Bryant.

Abby Abel and Mitch Bonar served as Grand Marshals. They are best friends and inspirational advocates for Unified Sports, which joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to compete. Abby and Mitch organized and developed a program to help athletes and friends to stay connected after high school, which has taken them to the Special Olympics World Games.

The parade aired live on WTHR Saturday afternoon with an encore presentation Saturday night at 9 p.m.

This year's parade featured 113 total units. IPL has been part of every parade dating back to 1957. The only other organization to appear in every parade is the Boy Scouts.

The list of celebrities who attended is long and distinguished:

  • Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers guard, who will drive Pace Car on pace laps of the Indy 500
  • Doug Jones, actor, The Shape of Water
  • Paul Sorvino, actor, Goodfellas
  • Geoff Stults, actor, 12 Strong, 7th Heaven
  • Kenny Sheard, actor, 12 Strong
  • Mark Nutsch, Will Summers, Chris Spence, real life Green Berets who inspired the movie, 12 Strong
  • David Anspaugh, director of Rudy
  • Angelo Pizzo, writer of Rudy
  • Ben Higgins, "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" star
  • Cara Mund, Miss America 2018
  • Lyn St. James, Racing Legend
  • Bobby Unser, Racing Legend
  • Jim Cornelison, singer of "Back Home Again in Indiana"
  • Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb
  • Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett
  • General Joseph L. Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau
  • Major General Courtney P. Carr, Adjutant General of Indiana
  • Zachary Spicer, actor, The Good Catholic
  • John Armstrong, producer, The Good Catholic
  • Kristin and Danny Adams, viral video stars
  • The 33 starting drivers of the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500

WTHR's Alyssa Raymond interviewed some of the celebrities walking the red carpet ahead of the parade.

Some of the U.S. Special Forces team that inspired the film "12 Strong," and the actors who play them, stopped by to talk about the movie and their 500 Festival experience so far.

Indy native actor Doug Jones stopped by and talked about what the Indy 500 means to him.

Hoosier vloggers Kristin and Danny Adams arrived with their children. They create popular videos on their YouTube channel.

Bachelor Ben Higgins, a Warsaw, Indiana native was a big draw for fans of the hit TV show.

Miss America Cara Mund is on her first-ever visit to Indiana. She talked to Alyssa about all her experiences since winning the Miss America crown, including her two-seater ride at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

You can watch a raw camera feed of the parade here.

A number of balloons are waiting for their turn down the streets of Indianapolis. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Live Doppler 13 Meteorologist Angela Buchman (left), Eyewitness News anchor John Stehr (center) and NBC's Kevin Lee (right) hosted the national broadcast of the parade (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The parade aired live on WTHR as well as nationally on NBC Sports Net. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Motorcycle Drill Team is a regular participant in the parade. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The National Anthem was performed by Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders danced with violinist Miri Ben-Ari at the start of the parade. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Miri Ben-Ari performed her song "Ten Commandments" for the crowd. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The Purdue marching band traditionally performs at the IPL 500 Festival Parade and also has duties on race day. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The Purdue marching band's Golden Girl watches her baton in the air. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
A tuba reflects the crowd during the parade. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The Purdue marching band is the largest band in the Big Ten. (WTHR Photo)
Children come face to face with celebrities and athletes at the parade. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
It was a windy day for the floats in the parade. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
IndyCar driver Conor Daly gives a thumbs up to the crowd. (WTHR Photo)
IU cheerleaders carried banners announcing each participant in the parade. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The IPL 500 Festival Parade is a very popular race day tradition for families. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The special forces team depicted in the movie "12 Strong" were honored in a float. The float holds a version of the America's Response Monument that sits near Ground Zero in New York City. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Actor Geoff Stults records the crowd during the parade. He was an actor in the movie "12 Strong." (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Balloon characters float over Pennsylvania Street in Indianapolis. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The Nationalities Council of Indiana had over 80 participants march to celebrate global peace and harmony. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Each balloon has a team of adult handlers. Sometimes even the kids help out. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The military plays a large role during each Indianapolis 500 weekend. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Indiana-native Ben Higgins was "The Bachelor" on season 20 of the reality show. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
IndyCar driver Carlos Muñoz waves to the crowd. All 33 drivers appear in the parade each year. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The Concord High School marching band performed in the 2018 parade. Concord is in Elkhart, Ind. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Headphones are a popular way to protect hearing for those lucky enough to sit close to the parade route. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Actor Doug Jones, best known for his "creature-work" in movies like "Shape of Water" and "Pans Labyrinth" is an Indianapolis-native who attended the 500 Festival Parade when he was growing up. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
There's no need to fear, Underdog is here! (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The 500 Festival Princesses wave to the crowd in the 2018 IPL 500 Festival Parade. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Each year, 33 college-aged women are selected to be a 500 Festival Princess. They attend all 500 Festival events during the month of May. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The Marching Patriots from Jay County High School in Portland, Ind. marched in the parade. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Cara Mund, 2018 Miss America, waves to the crowd. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Victor Oladipo will be the honorary pace car driver at the start of the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Young Pacers fans got excited to see All-Star player Victor Oladipo. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
The last leg of the parade went right up Meridian Street in downtown Indianapolis. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Red, white and blue apparel was everywhere. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Singer Jim Cornelison is an IU grad who will be singing "(Back Home Again in) Indiana" at the 102nd Indianapolis 500. (WTHR Photo)
Ballet Folklorico Mosiacos honored Mexican folk culture and danced their way down the parade route. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Ballet Folklorico Mosiacos was one of the more colorful groups and regularly marches in the parade. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato wants to drink the milk again this year. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
It was a little hot, but the rain held off for the 2018 IPL 500 Festival Parade. (WTHR Photo / Scott Hums)
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