Indy kicks off 500 festivities with mascot race

By Christina Ramey

INDIANAPOLIS – To start the greatest month in the city of Indianapolis, kids and adults gathered on Monument Circle to begin the countdown to the greatest spectacle in racing.

“This has become, over the last few years, the official kick off for the month of May,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said.

Indianapolis professional sports mascots getting ready to race down Meridian Street. Photo by Christina Ramey,

This year’s 500 Festival activities started with the first ever Mascot 500. Mascots from Indiana’s professional sports teams, including the Pacers’ Boomer and the Indianapolis Indians’ Rowdie, raced down Meridian Street on tricycles, making for a much smaller and slower race than the Indy 500. Leading the pack was Zeke, an English mastiff that pumps up the crowds of the Indy Eleven games.

Race fans interacted with mascots, met the Festival Princesses and grabbed some lunch at one of the many food trucks that were parked around the circle.

The Kickoff to May that took place on Wednesday was the first of numerous events such as the 500 Festival 5K and Breakfast at the Brickyard.

“What’s cool about the festival is it encourages people that might not even come to the race track during the rest of the year, but they’re proud of the Indy 500 is here,” Boles said. “More importantly they’re proud of the spirit that the city of Indianapolis has.”

The festival events lead up to the 101st running of the Indy 500 on Sunday, May 28.

“If you ever want to do this off of your bucket list, you’ll definitely have to experience a May in Indianapolis,” Indy 500 fan Renee Larson said. “It’s like no other. The city just really comes to life.”

To learn more about the events that are happening throughout the month, visit the 500 Festival website at

Christina Ramey is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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