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500 Festival Parade returns to downtown after pandemic hiatus

This year’s parade theme is "Back to Traditions. Racing Forward."

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 200,000 people are expected to line the streets of downtown Indianapolis to witness the return of the May tradition. As always, the AES 500 Festival Parade will feature floats, balloons, marching bands, local celebrities, and the 33 drivers that will race for the Borg-Warner Trophy at the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

This year’s parade theme is "Back to Traditions. Racing Forward."

The parade will be Saturday, May 28, with festivities beginning at 11:45 a.m. The parade will start at noon, and air live on WTHR with a rebroadcast Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET.

Route

This year's parade route will be shorter than in years past. It will start at North and Pennsylvania streets in downtown Indianapolis, and end at Meridian and North streets. 

Credit: 500 Festival
AES 500 Festival Parade route for 2022.

Downtown visitors should plan for street closures surrounding the parade route beginning Saturday morning until late Saturday afternoon.

Grand marshal

August A. Ebeling will be the grand marshal for this year's parade. Ebeling has long volunteered with the 500 Festival Volunteer Program. In 2016, he was named the 500 Festival Volunteer of the Year.

"Our volunteers are the heart of the 500 Festival, and we are proud to honor Augie as our Grand Marshal, representing each of our incredible volunteers who selflessly give their time and effort to help make the Month of May possible," said 500 Festival President and CEO Bob Bryant.

Ebeling said doctors have given him a presumptive diagnosis of ALS. Fittingly, May is also recognized as ALS Awareness Month.

RELATED: Floats arrive in Indy for 500 Festival Parade

VIPs

The parade will also present multiple featured guests and VIP appearances including actors, civic leaders, members of the 500 Festival Board of Directors, Indianapolis Motor Speedway executives, athletes, and more.  

  • Tyrese Haliburton – Indiana Pacers Guard  
  • Kelsey Mitchell and NaLyssa Smith – Indiana Fever  
  • Lindsay Czarniak – American sports anchor  
  • Drew Powell – Actor, Gotham (2014-2018) 
  • Joe Hogsett – Honorable Mayor of Indianapolis  
  • James Poore – Chair of the 500 Festival Board of Directors  
  • Rob Pruitt – Immediate Past Chair of the 500 Festival Board of Directors  
  • Kristina Lund and Kathy Storm – AES Indiana  
  • Doug Boles – Indianapolis Motor Speedway  
  • Sarah Fisher – American retired IndyCar driver (1999-2010)  
  • General Daniel R. Hokanson – Chief of National Guard Bureau  
  • General R. Dale Lyles – 59th Adjutant General of Indiana 
  • Miss Indiana – Braxton Hiser 
  • Miss Indiana’s Outstanding Teen – Kate Dimmett 
  • Officer Patrick McPherson – IMPD Officer of the Year 
  • Lieutenant Thomas Albrecht – IFD Firefighter of the Year 
  • Corporal Joshua McCrammer – Marion County Sherriff Deputy of the Year 
  • Tara and Jeff Homan Family – Authors 
  • Boomer – Indiana Pacers Mascot 
  • Freddy Fever – Indiana Fever Mascot 
  • The World-Famous Budweiser Clydesdales

RELATED: Speedway High School band returning to IMS for front row seat to Indy 500

Band lineup

  • Anderson High School Marching Highlanders (Anderson, Ind.) 
  • Bi-County Marching Band, (Marshall County, Starke County, Ind.) 
  • Cincinnati Tradition Drum and Bugle Corps (Fairfield, Ohio) 
  • Clark County High School Marching Indians (Kahoka, Mo.) 
  • Indiana All-Star Marching Band, National Band Association (Zionsville, Ind.) 
  • Indianapolis Public Schools All City Marching Band (Indianapolis, Ind.) 
  • Jac-Cen-Del High School Band, Flag Corps, and Dance Team (Osgood, Ind.) 
  • Lewis Cass Marching Kings, Lewis Cass High School (Walton, Ind.) 
  • Marching Lancers, Belleville East High School (Belleville, Ill.) 
  • Marching Braves, Maconaquah High School (Bunker Hill, Ind.) 
  • Purdue "All-American” Marching Band, Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.) 
  • Speedway 500 Regiment, Speedway High School (Speedway, Ind.) 
  • The Pride of Portage Marching Band, Portage High School (Portage, Ind.) 
  • 38th Infantry Division Band, Indiana National Guard (Indianapolis, Ind.) 

Floats

AES, the title sponsor for the 500 Festival Parade, is bringing electricity to downtown with its 85-foot-long float featuring wind turbines around the Soldiers & Sailors monument, paying homage to the AES employees who call Indiana home. 

"The Greatest Spectacle in Floating" celebrates the running of the Indianapolis 500. Riding on the float will be Matt and Maggie Novak, winners of this year's 500 Spectacle of Homes contest. Joining them will be Michael Donohue, son of driver Mark Donohue, who was the first champion driver for Team Penske, and Karl Kainhofer, the lead mechanic of the team. 

Credit: WTHR
Credit: WTHR

The American Dairy Association of Indiana is featuring the "Driving to Dairy in Victory Circle" float, which honors the tradition of a celebratory milk handoff from an Indiana dairy farmer to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 in Victory Circle. Two Indiana dairy farmers, Time Haynes and Kerry Estes, will be riding on the float, representing the more than 700 Hoosier dairy farm families.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s celebratory float reflects its promise to take a broader view of health and to strive for a healthier future ahead. This float pays tribute to Indiana frontline heroes during the pandemic, the power of neighbors and Indiana’s passion for sports and basketball.  

Credit: WTHR
Credit: WTHR

In 2020, Eli Lilly launched its racial justice commitment with a mission to advance racial justice for Black and other marginalized Americans and in the lives of patients. To commemorate the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion for all, its float showcases the words “We Stand Together.” 

RELATED: 500 Festival announces VIPs, bands for parade

The Republic Airways – LIFT Academy float, 28 feet in length, is soaring through the streets of Indianapolis at this year’s parade. Rooted in Indianapolis for nearly 30 years, Republic Airways operates 1,000 daily flights, many of which depart from Indiana.

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