Players and cheerleaders to be honored 60 years after history-making state championship title
INDIANAPOLIS (May 7, 2015) – The 500 Festival, a nonprofit organization providing life-enriching events for Indiana and celebrating the legacy of the Indianapolis 500, today announced that 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. The 58th IPL 500 Festival Parade will take place on Saturday, May 23. Tying into the theme for this year’s parade, Celebrating the Stories of May, honoring the Crispus Attucks team will give Hoosiers the opportunity to complete the team’s story of determination and historic accomplishments.
Steeped in the era of segregation, 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. Instead the truck took one lap around the circle and headed for a park in the city’s black neighborhood. The omission of the traditional celebration left the team’s players, including Basketball Hall of Fame member, Oscar Robertson, to conclude that they simply “weren’t wanted.”
To honor the groundbreaking 1955 Cripsus Attucks state championship basketball 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 of their historic state championship. The celebration will be complete with music, signs, pompoms, and pictures – bringing their story full circle.
“Winning the state championship was a special time for our team and for the community. It meant so much to us and to Indianapolis. On behalf of the 1955 Cripsus Attucks High School basketball team, we are honored to serve as the Grand Marshals for this year’s IPL 500 Festival Parade,” said Oscar Robertson.
“This is a celebration 60 years in the making – not just for this team, but for our community,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival. “It was important to our organization that every surviving member of this historic team be able to participate and enjoy the celebration, so we’re bringing everyone to Indianapolis for the occasion. It is truly an honor to host this accomplished group of trailblazers. We could not be more proud to deliver a world-class celebration for the team and another story to celebrate this May.”
Members of the 1955 Crispus Attucks basketball team participating in the IPL 500 Festival Parade:
- LeVern Benson
- James Enochs
- John Gipson
- Bill Hampton
- Albert Maxey
- Willie Merriweather
- Sheddrick Mitchell
- Stanford Patton
- Henry Robertson
- Oscar Robertson
1955 Crispus Attucks cheerleaders participating in the IPL 500 Festival Parade:
- Maxine Coleman
- Stella Barker Young
- Charlotte Hicks
- Sandra Thomas
- Wanda Reynolds
- Edwina Bell
In addition to serving as the Grand Marshal of the Parade, later that evening, the team will walk the televised red carpet as VIP guests at the KeyBank 500 Festival Snakepit Ball, a legendary race weekend party that will feature entertainment from American Authors and Straight No Chaser. On Sunday, May 24, the team will be celebrity VIPs at the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. They will walk the Race Day Red Carpet and enjoy the race from the famed Pagoda.
One of the inaugural 500 Festival events, the IPL 500 Festival Parade is one of the nation’s premier parades. More than 300,000 spectators will line the two-mile parade route to experience the larger-than-life floats, giant helium balloons, celebrities, marching bands, patriotic units and specialty units that will fill the streets of downtown Indianapolis. The tradition continues with the 33 starting drivers of the Indianapolis 500 serving as honorary grand marshals. The IPL 500 Festival Parade consistently earns national acclaim, ranking as one of the top parades, alongside the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The 2015 IPL 500 Festival Parade will take place on Saturday, May 23, stepping off at Noon ET, and will be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network and locally on WTHR. 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.
EDITOR’S NOTE: CLICK HERE To download a photo of the 1955 Crispus Attucks High School basketball team.
About the 500 Festival
Founded in 1957, the 500 Festival is a not-for-profit organization that produces more than 50 life-enriching events and programs while celebrating the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500 and fostering positive impact on the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana. One of the largest festivals in the nation, each year more than half a million people attend an event or program produced by the 500 Festival. Since its founding, the 500 Festival has contributed more than $350 million in economic value to Indianapolis. To learn more about the 500 Festival, please visit www.500festival.com, follow us on Twitter @500festival, or on Facebook.
Sabrina List, 500 Festival VP of Marketing & Communication