INDIANAPOLIS (May 13, 2015) – Organizers for the 2015 IPL 500 Festival Parade will again welcome several notable personalities to the Hoosier State for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
This year’s lineup includes basketball stars of the past and present, musical guests and more. The 1955 Crispus Attucks basketball team and team captain Oscar Robinson will serve as grand marshals. Other guests include Dwayne Allen and Pat McAfee of the Indianapolis Colts as well as former Colts linebacker Gary Brackett. Coach Frank Vogel and star player Paul George will represent the Indiana Pacers. Racing legends Mario Andretti and Al Unser Sr. will bring a taste of Indy 500 history to the event.
Here’s a look at this year’s celebrity and VIP parade lineup, which will also include appearances by the 33 starting drivers from the Indianapolis 500:
1955 Crispus Attucks Basketball Team: In honor of the 60th anniversary of its historic Indiana high school basketball championship, the 1955 Crispus Attucks High School basketball team and its cheerleaders will serve as Grand Marshals of the 2015 IPL 500 Festival Parade. Crispus Attucks High School’s basketball team overcame countless obstacles and inequalities to win the 1955 Indiana state basketball tournament, becoming the nation’s first entirely black high school to win a championship. Upon winning the championship game, the Crispus Attucks team didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the traditional ride in a fire truck and celebration on Monument Circle. To honor the groundbreaking team, for the first time in the IPL 500 Festival Parade’s 58-year history, there will be a planned stop along the Parade route, on Monument Circle. There, 60-years later, the Crispus Attucks basketball team and its cheerleaders, will have the long overdue celebration on Monument Circle. Members of the 1955 Crispus Attucks basketball team participating in the IPL 500 Festival Parade include: LeVern Benson, James Enoch, John Gipson, Bill Hampton, Albert Maxey, Willie Merriweather, Sheddrick Mitchell, Henry Robertson and Oscar Robertson.
Nico & Vinz: Bursting onto the music scene in 2014, Nico & Vinz’s multi-platinum global hit, “Am I Wrong,” topped the charts in 50 countries and was streamed more than 200 million times on Spotify. The duo gained international acclaim for effortlessly blending pop, reggae, West African dance, hip hop, rock and soul to create an engaging collection of songs that brim with soul-stirring messages and hopes for the future. In addition to touring with Usher and Bruno Mars, Nico & Vinz have made countless national TV appearances, including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, Dancing with the Stars, Live! with Kelly and Michael and The View.
Nastia Liukin: In 2008, Liukin was instrumental to the U.S. women’s team’s success at the Olympic Games, leading the team to the silver medal in team competition. Individually, she won the coveted Olympic all-around gold medal, silver medals on both balance beam and uneven bars, and the bronze medal on the floor exercise. Liukin is currently competing on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
Frank Vogel: As the head coach of the Indiana Pacers, Vogel has led the Pacers to several successful NBA playoff appearances since being named head coach in 2011. In January 2014, Vogel was named the Eastern Conference head coach for 2014 NBA All-Star Game. He is currently the second-youngest head coach in the National Basketball Association at the age of 38, a result of perseverance, hard work and dedication to the sport.
Paul George: A forward for the Indiana Pacers, George has also been selected to participate in the NBA All-Star Game and was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player during the 2012-2013 season. George has established himself as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, but it was his perseverance and tireless work that captured the hearts of America, most recently after suffering a traumatic leg injury.
Straight No Chaser: The popular a cappella group will participate in the IPL 500 Festival Parade just before making a repeat guest performance at the KeyBank 500 Festival Snakepit Ball late that evening. The group will perform ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ at the 2015 Indianapolis 500. Originally formed over a dozen years ago while students together at Indiana University, the group has become a phenomenon – with a massive fanbase, more than 20 million views on YouTube and numerous national TV appearances.
Dwayne Allen: Tight end for the Indianapolis Colts, Allen made his NFL debut in 2012 after playing college football for Clemson University. An active member of the Indianapolis community, Allen has participated in the “COLTSTRONG, LIBRARYSTRONG” campaign for the Indianapolis Library, the Colts Playground Build, and has made visits to the Riley Hospital for Children.
Gary Brackett: Former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Gary Brackett played for the team for nine seasons. During his career he was named defensive captain of the Colts, was twice named AFC Defensive Player-of-the-Week, and was the recipient of the Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian Award for his work with the IMPACT Foundation, a charity he founded in the spring of 2007. After retiring from the Colts, Brackett became the owner of the Stacked Pickle and opened his own restaurant, Georgia Reese’s, in Indianapolis.
Pat McAfee: The starting punter for the Indianapolis Colts, McAfee is a Pro Bowl player who has also been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month as well as the Associated Press’ First Team All-Pro punter. Along with McAfee’s many accomplishments on the field, he also created The Pat McAfee Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to providing scholarship assistance to the sons and daughters of US military personnel.
Florence Henderson: An actress and singer best known for playing the role of Carol Brady in the television program The Brady Bunch, Henderson’s become a beloved figure on race weekend. Since the mid-1990s, Henderson has performed the song “God Bless America” at the Indianapolis 500 accompanied by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band.
General Dennis L. Via: General Via is a four-star general in the United States Army and the 18th Commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness to ensure dominant land force capability for the U.S. Warfighter and our allies. He is the first Signal Corps Officer since General Henry H. Arnold to achieve a four-star rank.
Major General R. Martin Umbarger, Adjutant General of Indiana: As The Adjutant General of Indiana, Maj. Gen. Umbarger’s primary focus is to lead the Indiana Army and Air National Guard, the Indiana Guard Reserve and state employees all totaling more than 15,800 personnel. Prior to his current assignment, Maj. Gen. Umbarger served as the deputy commanding general for the reserve component, U.S. Forces Command.
Mario Andretti: Mario Andretti is the 1969 Indianapolis 500 Champion. He is one of only two drivers to win races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR. He was the only person to be named United States Driver of the Year in three decades (1967, 1978, and 1984). Mario won the Indy Car National Championship four times and was named the Associated Press Driver of the Century in 2000.
Al Unser, Sr.: Motorsports Hall of Fame member, Al Unser, Sr., is one of only three men to have won the Indianapolis 500 four times. Securing victories in 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987, “Big Al” also holds the distinction of having led the most laps of any driver in the history of the Indianapolis 500, at 644.
Mayor Greg Ballard: Mayor Greg Ballard is the 48th Mayor of Indianapolis. Mayor Ballard served for 23 years as a U.S. Marine and is a Persian Gulf War Veteran. He was awarded with the Legion of Merit. Ballard is a native Hoosier raised on the east side of Indianapolis and graduated from Cathedral High School.
Organizers expect more than 300,000 spectators to line the two-mile parade route to see floats, celebrities, marching bands and more. The festival is set for Saturday, May 23, at noon. Tickets for the IPL 500 Festival Parade start at $15 and can be purchased at www.500festival.com/paradetickets, or at the 500 Festival’s Ticket Office, located at 21 Virginia Ave. in Downtown Indianapolis.
For more information about the IPL 500 Festival Parade, please visit www.500festival.com/parade.