First look at 2018 IPL 500 Festival Parade, Grand Marshals

Mitch Bonar, left, and Abby Abel are the Grand Marshals of the 2018 IPL 500 Festival parade. (Photo: Charles Jischke/Purdue Athletics)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — As we get closer to the iconic month of May in Indianapolis, we're getting our first look at the 500 Festival events for 2018.

While scores of celebrities make their way to the Circle City every year, the full list isn't usually available until closer to the events.

Three celebrities that have been confirmed all have a tie to the movie "Rudy," which is based on Notre Dame football star Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger. The iconic football-player-turned-motivational-speaker will be among those in the IPL 500 Festival Parade on Saturday, May 26.

Two people behind the movie "Rudy" will also be in the parade. David Anspaugh is an Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning film director and producer. The Decatur, Indiana native is a graduate of Indiana University and directed both "Rudy" and the basketball film "Hoosiers".

Angelo Pizzo is another Hoosier who is famous for writing and producing "Rudy" as well as "Hoosiers." The Bloomington native will also be in the parade as part of the salute to "Rudy" and Ruettiger.

Construction for the floats will begin soon, but we're getting our first look at the creations that will stroll through the streets of downtown Indianapolis for the parade.

Musician and entertainer Miri Ben-Ari will be in the 500 Festival parade float.

The Indiana Dairy, Winners Drink Milk float will feature a barn scene with a cow and a huge glass of milk.

The Anthem Parade Float will feature a salute to all service members of the armed forces.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis will also be in the IPL 500 Festival Parade with a Hot Wheels float.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway float features a large replica of the iconic pagoda and Victory Circle with a replica of the famous Borg-Warner Trophy.

The IPL float will feature a scene of the company's headquarters and Monument Circle along with street lights indicating the 2018 parade's theme: Illuminate. Innovate. Indianapolis.

Tickets are still available for the parade and start at $10 here.

The Grand Marshals of the parade were surprised with their selection on Sunday, April 15. Abby Abel and Mitch Bonar will lead the 62nd annual IPL 500 Festival Parade.


The organization says, "tying into the theme for this year's parade — Illuminate. Innovate. Indianapolis — the selection of this year's honorees will illuminate the good work being done by Indiana high school and college students every day in communities around the state as well as tell the story of the innovation happening from within Indiana, a state that is leading the field of unified sports."

Abel is a 2015 Carmel High School graduate and was a star player on Carmel High School's girls' basketball team

Bonar is a 2015 Noblesville High School graduate and was born with cerebral palsy.

The two became best friends in high school when they joined their school's Unified Track and Field team. It joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to compete. They also worked to develop a program to help athletes and friends to stay connected after high school.

Abel is now a junior at Purdue and plays on the women's basketball team. She also helped to organize the Play Unified Basketball Tournament at Purdue.

Abby Abel watches as basketball players participate in the Play Unified event in West Lafayette. (Photo: Charles Jischke/Purdue Athletics)

Bonar is a student at Ivy Tech and travels the state as part of the Champions Together program, speaking to thousands of Indiana high school students.

Together, they are working to shatter the stigma and perception against people with disabilities.

"Abby Abel and Mitch Bonar are true catalysts for social change. Their tireless work to ignite change within our community is inspirational. Their ability to use sports to give a voice to everyone is remarkable and the work that they have done and continue to do will change the world. We can't wait to join the crowd of 300,000 to celebrate their friendship and their commitment to making a difference," Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival said in a statement.

The parade will be broadcast live exclusively on WTHR on Saturday, May 26 beginning at Noon.

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