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500 Festival Parade makes its return to downtown Indianapolis

As always, the AES 500 Festival Parade featured floats, balloons, marching bands, local celebrities, and the 33 drivers.

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 200,000 people lined the streets of downtown Indianapolis to witness the return of the May tradition. As always, the AES 500 Festival Parade featured 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 66th annual parade made its return after a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It's a day many Hoosiers have been waiting for. 

RELATED: 500 Festival Parade returns to downtown after pandemic hiatus

“Yeah, we love the month of May here in Indy,” said Abby Doster, of Indianapolis. 

“We’re just excited for the parade,” said Hannah Reed, of Fishers. 

With thousands of people turning out along the route, Reed and her family came out early to snag good spots to see all the action.

“I know, this seat was open so we had to take it,” Reed said. 

And nearly everyone lined up along downtown Indianapolis was looking forward to different parts of the parade. 

“The cheerleaders!” said 4-year-old Maggie Doster. Bonnie, 2, and Marshall Harris, 4, said they're looking forward to seeing the balloons and the horses.

“It’s hard to imagine it’s been three years since we’ve been out here doing this so I think the excitement that we’ve seen from the community but certainly for all our staff, the hundreds of volunteers that are out here today, the big story is just that we’re doing this. So we’re just excited, couldn’t ask for a better day,” said Bob Bryant, 500 Festival President & CEO. 

Credit: WTHR
The Pacemates and Colts Cheerleaders danced to kick off the 2022 parade.

Bryant said the parade has been an Indy tradition since 1957 and after a tough two years in the pandemic, Bryant said it feels like the whole city is ready to celebrate the month of May. 

“This is really the culmination of a full month of activity for everything the 500 festival does in the community. So we’re excited to kind of put the icing on the cake, so to speak, and really, just an opportunity for this community to come together. I think we all need that,” Bryant said.

Credit: WTHR
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Motorcycle Drill Team performed their precision drills at the 2022 AES 500 Festival Parade.

For Indy resident Abby Doster, the parade happening on Saturday feels extra special.   

“Well, this is actually my birthday. Today fell on my birthday but for years, my parents have brought us out to the parade and we’ve celebrated my birthday at the parade,” said Abby Doster. 

Coming downtown to watch the parade with her family has been a longstanding tradition, Doster said. And after two years without this level of pomp and circumstance for the month of May, she said they're thrilled to be back here celebrating once again.

"A lot of our little guys, this will be our first time that they actually get to come so it’s even more special for us to be back here,” Doster said.

Credit: WTHR

Live updates

2:04 p.m. - Thanks to everyone who joined us for the parade.

1:50 p.m. - After technical issues delayed the parade - things are back rolling again.

1:20 p.m. - Thank you to all the members of IEMS helping make sure everyone is safe.

We are so glad to have the 500 Festival Parade back again, and we are honored to be part of the public safety team...

Posted by Indianapolis EMS on Saturday, May 28, 2022

12:57 p.m. - About an hour left to go and what fun we've been having already!

12:36 p.m. - Yes it is Dave!

12:23 p.m. - Floats, cars and balloons...oh my!

12:20 p.m. - Always cool to see the skills these officers have.

12:14 p.m. - Here's the look from the live band cam.

12:05 p.m. - The performances are underway as the parade heads through downtown Indianapolis.

12:00 p.m. - The parade is underway!

11:40 a.m. - Have fun Rachael!

11:27 a.m. - It's good to see so many people coming out for this great race weekend tradition.

11:15 a.m. - Just 45 minutes to go!

11:05 a.m. - Here's what AES is saying about sponsoring the 500 Festival Parade:

10:36 a.m. - A beautiful day for a parade.

10:35 a.m. - Let's all have a safe and fun parade.

10:31 a.m. - We can't wait!

10:30 a.m. - The band lineup for the parade is as follows:

  • 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.)

10:25 a.m. - 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

10:20 a.m. - 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.

10:15 a.m. - 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. 

9:50 a.m. - The balloons are being filled up for the parade.

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