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500 Festival Parade celebrates the “American Spirit”

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—The IPL 500 Festival Parade is taking over downtown Indianapolis to celebrate the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500.

This year’s parade’s theme is “Accelerating the American Spirit.”

Organizers estimate roughly 250,000-plus people will line Pennsylvania and Meridian Streets to watch the floats, balloons and performers roll through the city.

Volunteer started inflating larger-than-life helium balloons early Saturday morning, with fan-favorites like the Penguins of Madagascar, Uncle Sam and the Very Hungry Caterpillar. The event celebrates not only the greatest spectacle in racing, but the men and women who have served the country.

Fourteen marching bands, including the 38th Infantry Division Band, will march and perform for the crowds as fans enjoy a procession of floats from Eli Lilly, Indianapolis Power & Light Company, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and much more.

This year’s Grand Marshal is Eva Kor, a survivor of the Holocaust and forgiveness advocate. According to the 500 Festival website, Kor will “lead Hoosiers in the celebration of the human spirit” as she leads the parade.

The parade is the only 500 Festival event that has been consistent every year since the organization founded in 1957.