My wife and I aren’t sports fans, but in 2011 we decided to try the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade for our first time together. Each year on the Saturday before the world-famous Indy 500, our city holds a parade downtown with corporate-character floats, scintillating displays, marching bands, celebrities of varying levels of fame, all 33 qualifying Indy 500 drivers, members of the family that owns and/or operates the race, and bellicose street preachers.
Last year’s experience was such a fun date that we agreed an encore was in order. Ninety-degree weather was far from comfy, but we persevered. The following is a fraction of the pics we snapped.
The parade’s Grand Marshal: Australia’s own Olivia Newton-John! She was too far away to take questions and recriminations about Xanadu.
’80s sensation Rick Springfield! The trailer speakers blared “Jessie’s Girl”, the only song of his that our local radio stations remember. As always, they sadden me.
’80s semi-sensation Eddie Money reprises one of his classic hits, “Two Tickets to Parade”. With him is One Tree Hill‘s Jana Kramer, though for some reason all promotional materials avoided mentioning that show in favor of her plans to release her first country music album later this year. All kinds of odd choices in that sentence.
Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana and certified Wild One.
TV’s Guy Fieri, of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It was thanks to his recommendation several years ago that we had the pleasure of trying West Virginia’s Hillbilly Hot Dogs, and we’ll never, ever forget the experience.
Gladys Knight, well-known Pip-wrangler and midnight train passenger.
Florence Henderson is one of two celebrity staples guaranteed to appear at every Indy 500. The other, Jim Nabors, has bowed out this year. I wish him speedy recovery from whatever ruined a good run for him.
Derek Hough from Dancing with Stars and Maria Menounos from Extra. When their car moved forward to Monument Circle, they got out and had one of their walk-along security men snap their pic together in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Tourism isn’t just for us little people.
Captain Keith Colburn from TV’s Deadliest Catch. Alongside him but off-camera is a guy from A&E’s Storage Wars. Missed him by that much.
Miss Piggy, strung along by her obedient Kermitlings.
Papa Smurf, living large after the success of his feature film debut, striding around atop forced Smurf labor.
The Cat in the Hat and his goldfish arch-nemesis declare a temporary truce for the occasion.
The Confucius Institute sponsored this golden dragon float as our new front line of defense against Godzilla.
Giant monster bookworm says read or be squashed. Look for him in his upcoming Syfy Original Movie, Giant Bookworm vs. Golden Dragon.
The Fred Hill Briefcase Drill Team. Even in those classy suits, they looked a lot less dehydrated and suffering than some of the high school musicians in the parade.
THE Mario Andretti. I haven’t watched or listened to an entire Indy 500 race since college, but even I know and respect that name.
Indy driver Takuma Sato. He finished 33rd out of 33 cars in 2011, but his was one of the two best driver photos we took.
Marco Andretti, youngest racer in America’s favorite racing family. Take THAT, Speed Racer and Racer-X.
Special bonus for longtime readers: I’m please to report at least three food trucks were out and about, making the most of the weekend.
The Edwards Drive-In Dashboard Diner wins Best Truck Art.
The Chuck Wagon Deli wins Best Truck I Haven’t Tried Yet. This is the first time I’ve seen them downtown. I would’ve given them a shot if we hadn’t had such a decent breakfast this morning.
Der Pretzel Wagen wins Best Sugary Treat. Their cinnamon sugar pretzel was a delightful relief after the parade ended and I needed extra energy for the walk back to the car.
When most people think “Indiana parade”, I imagine this is what comes to mind first: racecars and farmers. Just add a large basketball and a guy taking a nap, and it would be a true salute to Hoosier stereotypes.
I trust one or more of the other twenty-one images help balance the scales, so let us never speak of this throwback again.
For wallpaper fans, large-scale versions of these pics are on display in my PhotoBucket album. We have plenty more photos not uploaded, if the public demands outtakes of the Dennis the Menace float, a traditional Chinese dragon, non-character floats sponsored by Big Energy, Indy 500 Princesses, obscured 500 drivers, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s wife’s hat, a stagecoach, the Hulman family, sweltering marching bands, or clowns. I was afraid to photograph any street preachers, so I can’t help you there.