One of the 500 Festival’s original events, the AES 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.
The 67th AES 500 Festival Parade was held Saturday, May 27, in downtown Indianapolis at 11:45 a.m. This iconic race-weekend tradition featured spectacular floats, larger-than-life helium balloons, marching bands from across the country, celebrities and everyday heroes, and the 33 drivers competing in the Indy 500.
This year’s theme, Fueling May, celebrated the people, traditions, history, and memories that bring the spirit of May to life. May in Indianapolis is more than just a month. It is a tradition, celebration, and spectacle like no other.
This year’s Grand Marshal was Frank Shorter, Olympic gold medalist and the winner of the first OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Shorter became a household name in 1972 when he championed the gold medal at the Munich Olympics. He was the first American winner of the Olympic Marathon, and no man from the United States has won since. Four years later, he went on to win the silver medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. Shorter is the only American athlete to win two medals in the Olympic marathon. In 1977, Shorter crossed the finish line to win the first-ever Mini-Marathon and put the Mini on the global running map. By signing up to run the first race, he catapulted the event into new territory and single-handedly launched the Mini and Indianapolis into the upper echelons of the running industry, where it continues to be one of the largest and most successful half-marathons in the world. Today, Shorter serves as a Mini-Marathon race commentator from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the WTHR broadcast and has hosted a dinner for the elite runners on the night before the race. He also attends the Mini-Marathon Expo each year to interact with and wish participants luck, shares stories, and even sign autographs. Shorter has been fueling Mini-Marathon participants with his presence ever since the first Indy Mini, and the tradition of seeing him continues as he will be honored and celebrated as the Grand Marshal for the AES 500 Festival Parade.
“The tradition of the AES 500 Festival Parade is one that is beloved and celebrated by race fans, community members, and visitors from around the world,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival. “Frank has been a pillar of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and a meaningful supporter of the 500 Festival for decades as the event has become the 500 Festival’s single largest annual fundraiser. His spirit and enthusiasm for the Mini-Marathon fuels our participants each year and we are elated to honor Frank and his contributions to the 500 Festival as this year’s Grand Marshal.”
“The invitation to serve as Grand Marshall of the 2023 AES 500 Festival Parade caught me totally off guard. Of course, I immediately accepted,” said Frank Shorter. “As I let the honor settle in, I realized the friends I had made at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon over the years from Glenn Amos, race director, on down were even closer than I had thought. Then, I find myself accepted into the entire 500 Festival family. I am grateful in so many ways.”
Join us in celebration as we celebrate the people, traditions, and stories that fuel may!