The 500 Festival Parade
Held on the Saturday immediately prior to the 500 Mile Race, electrifies the streets of downtown Indianapolis as the stars of Indy join with other celebrities from around the country and around the world to celebrate the worlds greatest spectacle in racing. This parade has been an annual event in Indianapolis since 1957.
The 500 Festival Parade features balloons of famous cartoon characters, marching bands, dance troupes, themed floats, 33 Indy 500 festival princesses, popular celebrities, and the fearless young racers, of course. Watch for your favorite movie star or music artist. See and be seen. On the Saturday before the worlds most famous auto race, this is the place to be. The event will also be televised on Indianapolis WISH TV-8.
The atmosphere is family friendly by design. The organizers of the parade are always sure to provide entertainment the whole family can enjoy, especially the younger fans. The parade starts at noon, but be sure to get there early as this event is expected to draw more than 300,000 fans and if you haven't purchased a reserved seat, the free curbside viewing venues are finders keepers.
Former Grand Marshals include Jimmy Stewart, President, Walter Cronkite, Gerald Ford, Vice President Dan Quayle, Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The Grand Marshal for the 2019 parade is expected to be announced on or about May 1, 2019.
The parade route begins at the intersection of Pennsylvania and North streets, runs south to Washington Street, turns right (West) on Washington Street for one block to Meridian Street, turns right (North) and continues to 11th street where the parade route ends. Streets will be closed the morning of the parade from Illinois on the West to Delaware on the East, and from 16th Street on the North to Washington Street on the South. The streets begin closing at 6:00 AM, so plan your route carefully to avoid these areas. Bleachers and reserved seating are available and secured by the purchase of a ticket. Tickets for adults can be purchased for $ 18.00 for reserved chairs or $ 14.50 for reserved bleacher seats. Special accommodations for wheel chairs can be provided, if arranged at the time you order your tickets.
Tips that you may fine helpful:
1. Purchase tickets for the parade in advance. Unlike most parades, the Indy 500 Festival Parade requires tickets. These are easily available through many online ticket outlets and this event regularly sells out.
2. Make travel plans to get to Indianapolis. If you are lucky enough to live within driving distance of the city, it will be easier for you. If you have to fly, make your reservations as early as possible, as this is the busiest weekend for Indy and most flights sell out. If you can't get a flight, check flights to nearby airports like Louisville and Chicago.
3. Secure a hotel room early. Just like the flights, hotels in the Indianapolis area will be just as scarce. The closer to the track you try to find a room, the harder it will be. Be prepared to drive a little bit to get to the festival.
4. Be sure to arrive early on parade day. Round up your family early and scout out a front row seat to watch the festivities. It is recommended that you arrive several hours before the start of the parade. Which brings us to …
5. Bring lawn chairs and some snacks. Don't forget water. Indianapolis usually has great weather this time of year and the time before the parade offers fantastic people watching. Once you have a spot, make yourself comfortable and wait for the action.