SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Race weekend is here! Before the AES 500 Festival Parade returns to downtown Indianapolis on Saturday, 13News got a first look at the eight featured 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.
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.
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.”
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.
The 500 AES Festival Parade has been an Indianapolis tradition for more than 60 years. It's been three years since the 500 Festival featured a full-fledged parade.
Saturday will also include an opening ceremony, entertainment with local bands, all 33 starting drivers and some celebrities.
"It's just going to be a fantastic time of just that great mosaic of all those things you expect in the 500 Festival Parade, with some sincere moments of stories that we're a platform to tell in this community, so we're excited to be back full force and have a full parade route," said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival.
Every year, more than 4,000 volunteers help pull off all the community events during the Month of May.
The Grand Marshal is August Ebeling, a longtime volunteer and ambassador.
The parade gets underway on Saturday starting at 11:45 a.m. downtown. Tickets are still available for $25.
13News will broadcast the parade live, with Anne Marie Tiernon and Felicia Lawrence serving as hosts.