500 Festival Parade canceled for 2nd consecutive year

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The 500 Festival Parade will not happen for a second consecutive year, organizers said Tuesday.

The 500 Festival organization also canceled in-person participation for most other events during the month of May, although some events will happen as “invitation only” with strict adherence to health guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said in a news release. The 500 Festival events were scheduled in advance of the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30.

In place of the canceled parade, the 500 Festival group and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have “500 Spectacle of Homes,” an effort to encourage people to decorate their homes and yards for the race. The event also will include a caravan of the 33 Indianapolis 500 drivers, who will make their way from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to surrounding neighborhoods and downtown Indianapolis on May 29.

Here is the list of cancellations along with virtual and invitation-only events:

  • The Kickoff to May Coloring Contest will return in April for Indiana children 12 and younger.
  • The 500 Festival Kickoff to May on May 5 will be open only to the news media.
  • The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and 5K, as announced March 1, will be virtual.
  • 500 Festival Kids’ Day on May 15 will not happen. An online interactive Kids’ Day will happen the same day.
  • 500 Festival Rookie Run for kids ages 3-10 will be virtual.
  • 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard on May 22 will be invitation-only at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • The American Legion 500 Festival Memorial Service on May 28 will be invitation-only at the Indiana War Memorial. WISH-TV will provide a livestream of the event, and rebroadcast it on Memorial Day, May 31.
  • 500 Festival Off the Grid, a black-tie event, will not happen.

The festival is turning its volunteer program into a virtual experience as well.

Also, The 500 Festival & Indianapolis 500 Education Program will not happen. Instead, teachers in the program will receive information on virtual resources for classrooms.

“As a non-profit organization that produces large-scale community events held in public spaces, we have faced a number of unique challenges compared to events hosted in standalone venues. After careful consideration, it was ultimately determined that many of our events would not be able to take place in their traditional, in-person formats. The 500 Festival is continuing to work hard to reproduce and reimagine experiences and traditions that so many Hoosiers and race fans have come to love. Through these new opportunities and activations, we will continue to support and celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500 in every way possible.”

Bob Bryant, president and chief executive officer of the 500 Festival

“We appreciate the community engagements of the 500 Festival and look forward to the opportunity to welcome Indiana mayors at the Breakfast at the Brickyard and honor Gold Star Families at the Memorial Service. The new 500 Festival activities are creative and essential to keep the community at the forefront of all that we value for the Month of May in Indiana. These moves allow us to focus on the events and activities that will take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including the 105th running of the Indy 500. We extend our gratitude to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ticket-holders, participants, and the thousands of community volunteers who are critical to the overall positive impact of the 500 Festival on our city and state.”

Rob Pruitt, chairman of the 500 Festival Board of Directors

News release

“INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, March 30, 2021) – Fans of the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge are encouraged to show their anticipation and excitement for the Sunday, May 30 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by participating in a new, month-long activation showcasing civic pride and engagement: ‘500 Spectacle of Homes.’

“The ‘500 Spectacle of Homes’ will provide a focal point for celebrating this year’s ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ building on the tradition of community porch parties and reimagining the traditional AES 500 Festival Parade, which will not be held in 2021. Indianapolis-area fans are encouraged to participate in the city-wide celebration by decorating their yards and homes in race-themed fashion, similar to many of the floats featured in the traditional parade.

“The celebration will culminate Saturday, May 29 – the day before the 105th Running – with all 33 starting drivers using event-themed 500 Festival event cars to complete a ‘reverse parade’ through Indianapolis neighborhoods. The caravan will proceed from the Town of Speedway to downtown Indianapolis before the drivers and other dignitaries spread out through the city’s diverse neighborhoods to thank fans and recognize them for their inventive efforts to create the ‘500 Spectacle of Homes.’

“Participating residents may submit their addresses to be included in a digital map for fellow race fans to drive by throughout the Month of May, similar to neighborhood holiday lights displays in December. Fans with home submissions will have the opportunity to win Month of May prizes.

“In April, IMS.com will offer a hub filled with tips and inspiration, with IMS landmarks such as the Pagoda and the Yard of Bricks woven into the potential imagery. Residents are also encouraged to use their imagination regarding all things Month of May to create unique designs.

“‘This is a terrific way for fans to celebrate the Month of May and the Indy 500,’ IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. ‘Porch parties have become popular in recent years and are an example of the intense community spirit we have for IMS and its events. Decorating yards and homes for this neighborhood celebration will amp up the excitement even more. I look forward to seeing the creativity of our residents inspire our city throughout the Month of May and provide a fitting sendoff for our drivers ahead of the world’s greatest race.’

“Said 500 Festival President and CEO Bob Bryant: ‘The spirit of the AES 500 Festival Parade continues in a new way. We are excited to work with IMS, the Harrison Center and community participants to once again showcase all 33 drivers in the 2021 Indy 500. We look forward to the return of our traditional community events next year and are appreciative of the flexibility from our stakeholders and IMS to find new ways to celebrate the Month of May.’

“Décor items – such as yard signs and flags – will be distributed to several neighborhoods ahead of May 29 to encourage as much participation as possible. IMS will amplify the social posts of fans, using the imagery on IMS big screens and feeding NBC for its Race Day broadcast.

“The activation is being planned by IMS, the Harrison Center and the 500 Festival. For more information, visit IMS.com.”

March 30, 2021, Indianapolis Motor Speedway news release “‘500 Spectacle of Homes’ To Celebrate Month of May throughout Indianapolis”