Crowds gather to watch IPL 500 Festival Parade, TK surprises young fan

(WTHR photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - We saw plenty of sunshine during the IPL 500 Festival Parade, since the rain held off until it was over, but wind did impact the weekend's festivities. Organizers pulled the big helium balloons from the parade lineup to make sure everyone stayed safe.

Families still came out and celebrated the day before the Indianapolis 500. Between the marching music and colorful characters, there was plenty to see at the parade.

"They've never been, so I just had to show them what it's all about," said Amber Mercer, who came from Speedway with her two boys.

The day before the Indy 500, crowds were lining the streets of downtown Indianapolis to watch their favorite drivers go slow.

"I like how the city came out to support the parade," said Drae Scott, Indianapolis.

For McKenzie Polston, 6, it was also a chance to see one driver in action in a way her family didn't expect.

"She's a big fan of Tony Kanaan so it was really cool of him to get out of his Corvette, hop over here and sign her jersey," said Jonathan Polston.

After Kanaan signed McKenzie's shirt, he got back in his car and continued along the parade route.

There were some first-time fans in the crowd, but we also met seasoned veterans who knew just where to go.

"I come at about ten o'clock in the morning when nobody is here," said Wallace Gray, who lives in Carmel. "We've got the shadow of the building until about now and we have nobody in front of us and there's a porta-potty right around the corner."

There are a lot of traditions at the parade, but some things were missing this year, including the big balloons you would usually see floating through the sky. That's because parade organizers decided it was too windy to let them fly. The biggest area of concern was down Meridian Street, where winds can sometimes get very strong.

It's weird not seeing them out here, but it's still fun," said Mercer.

The fun will continue on Sunday when the drivers pick up the pace in cars of their own, with memories of this fun event in the rear view mirror until next time around.