500 Festival Announces Celebrity and VIP Lineup for the 61st IPL 500 Festival Parade

500 Festival Announces Celebrity and VIP Lineup for the 61st IPL 500 Festival Parade

INDIANAPOLIS (May 18, 2017) – Hollywood stars, musicians, athletes, Hoosier heroes and racing legends will take to the streets of downtown Indianapolis for the 61st IPL 500 Festival Parade, scheduled for Saturday, May 27. Holocaust survivor and forgiveness advocate, Eva Kor, will serve as the Grand Marshal of this year’s event. Platinum-selling rock band, X Ambassadors, will headline the Parade’s opening entertainment with a theme that’s fitting to Kor’s story; a passion for fighting through obstacles and overcoming challenges. Tickets for the 2017 IPL 500 Festival Parade are available for purchase at www.500festival.com/tickets/.

Joining the Grand Marshal and opening performance are numerous celebrities and VIPs, including actor David Alan Grier, American gymnast Madison Kocian, Glenn Robinson III from the Indiana Pacers, and more. Also appearing will be the 33 starting drivers of the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Eva Kor: Eva Mozes Kor is a survivor of the Holocaust and forgiveness advocate. At the age of 10 she entered Auschwitz where she was separated from most of her family. She and her twin sister were subjected to unthinkable medical experiments and fought daily for their own survival until the camp was eventually liberated. Kor’s experiences in Auschwitz, coupled with her never-give-up attitude, led her to a life of advocacy work, teaching remembrance, understanding, and hope. She is a resident of Terre Haute, Ind. where she co-founded the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

X Ambassadors: The platinum-selling rock band released their debut album, VHS, in 2015, where it debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and has been certified gold by the RIAA. The album features the platinum selling, No. 1 song, “Renegades,” as well as the single, “Unsteady,” which climbed the Billboard Hot 100 and is featured in the feature film and soundtrack for “Me Before You.” Hailing from Ithaca, N.Y., X Ambassadors is a guitar-driven rock band whose music features a unique sampling of soul and hip-hop.

Madison Kocian: American gymnast Madison Kocian is a member of the gold-winning 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, nicknamed “The Final Five.” Kocian helped the U.S. women win team gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the USA’s second-straight Olympic gymnastics team title. She also won the uneven bars silver medal, the first U.S. Olympic uneven bars medal since 2008. In 2015, Kocian made gymnastics history when she was part of a four-way tie for the 2015 World uneven bars gold medal. She also helped the USA to its third-consecutive World team title with her performances at the 2015 World Championships. In 2014, Kocian made her World Championships debut in Nanning, China, where the USA also won the team title.

Nathan Kress: Known around the world for his lead role on Nickelodeon’s hit show “iCarly,” Nathan played Freddie Benson, Carly’s smitten next-door neighbor and technical producer of her web show. He has also been involved in feature films like “Into the Storm” and “Babe: Pig in the City,” and had a recurring role on “The Jimmy Kimmel Show.”

Glenn Robinson III: A Gary, Ind. native, Glenn Robinson III is a guard for the Indiana Pacers and most recently won the 2017 NBA Slam Dunk Contest with a perfect score. Since joining the Pacers in 2015, Robinson III has quickly become an Indianapolis fan favorite as his role on the team continues to increase. He finished the 2016-2017 season averaging 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

General Robert B. Abrams: General Abrams is a four-star general currently serving as the 22nd Commanding General of the U.S. Army Forces Command. General Abrams has served our country since May of 1982 upon graduation of the U.S. Military Academy. In his 35 years, General Abrams has commanded at every level from Company through Division, including Commanding General of the 3rd Infantry Division, and has led units in combat operations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Major General Courtney P. Carr: Major General Carr is the Adjutant General of Indiana. He was appointed on June 1, 2015, and primarily serves in leadership of the Indiana Army and Air National Guard, the Indiana Guard Reserve, and state employees all totaling over 15,800 personnel to meet state and federal missions. General Carr also began his career upon graduation of the U.S. Military Academy in May of 1983, one year after Abrams.

Major General Andrew P. Poppas: Major General Poppas assumed duties as the Commander, 101st Airborne Division on January 19, 2017. A native of Janesville, Wisconsin, MG Poppas graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1988 before receiving his Master’s from Kansas State and graduating from the Defense Language Institute of the Hellenic War College in Greece. He was also a 2011 National Security Fellow at Harvard University. Poppas’ command assignments are plenty, including Deputy Commanding General for Operations, 101st Airborne Division, Air Assault from July 2012 to July 2014, including duty in Afghanistan from February 2013 to February 2014. His awards include two Bronze Star medals, the Defense Superior Service medal, and a Purple Heart, to name a few.

Lyn St. James: Lyn St. James is known for being the first female driver to win the Rookie of the Year award in the Indianapolis 500 (1992). St. James went on to start seven Indianapolis 500 races and was named one of Sports Illustrated for Women’s Top-100 Women Athletes of the Century. Now, St. James’ focus is motivational speaking revolving around doing the impossible, referencing her breaking into a sport previously dominated by men. She has been a coach and mentor to nearly 300 women drivers across the globe, including Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher.

Governor Eric Holcomb: Governor Holcomb has served as the 51st Governor of Indiana since January of 2017. Prior to his election, he was the Lieutenant Governor under former Governor and now Vice President, Mike Pence. Holcomb is a born-and-raised Hoosier. A graduate of Pike High School and Hanover College, he spent his entire childhood in Indiana before serving in the Navy for six years and working in Washington D.C. for another six. He later returned to Indiana to serve as an advisor to Governor Mitch Daniels in 2003. Holcomb was sworn into office on January 9 of this year.

Mayor Joe Hogsett: A Rushville, Ind. native and Indiana University graduate, Hogsett is also a born-and-raised Hoosier. After graduating from Indiana, Hogsett received graduate degrees from Butler University and the Christian Theological Seminary, later earning his law degree from Indiana, as well. In 1989, Hogsett was appointed to the position of Secretary of State in Indiana, vacated by Evan Bayh, where he would remain until 1994. He later served as the chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party and was later nominated by President Barack Obama to be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana before being unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He resigned in 2014 to run for Mayor of Indianapolis. He won in November of 2015. 

One of the original 500 Festival events, the IPL 500 Festival Parade is one of the nation’s largest, most respected parades, consistently earning national acclaim alongside the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. More than 300,000 people will line the streets of downtown Indianapolis to experience the larger-than-life floats, giant helium balloons, celebrities, all 33 drivers competing in the 101st running of the Indy 500, specialty units, and award-winning bands from across the country.

In 2017, we turn the corner on last year’s celebration that highlighted many milestones, including the 40th OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, the 60th IPL 500 Festival Parade and the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. It was a great year, but no one is waving the checkered flag just yet. With many laps still to go, May 2017 is a chance to refuel and punch the gas. And with this year’s celebration covered in star-spangled spirit, it’s sure to be an inspiring salute to America on Memorial Day Weekend. The 500 Festival’s 2017 theme, Accelerating the American Spirit, gives Hoosiers the green light to ignite that red, white and blue passion.

The 2017 IPL 500 Festival Parade will take place on Saturday, May 27, with Parade festivities starting at 11:45 am. The IPL 500 Festival Parade will be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network and broadcast to the Indianapolis market on WTHR, Channel 13. 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 or search #IPL500Parade on social media.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To download photos of celebrities participating in this year’s IPL 500 Festival Parade, please click the link embedded in their name.


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 $400 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.