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500 Festival gets under way with Mini-Marathon

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The 32nd running of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is May 3. The mini has sold-out for the past six years, with 35,000 registrants this year, and an additional 4,000 participants in the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K.

The Mini-Marathon is the largest half-marathon in the U.S., and overall, the eighth largest running event in America. This year’s event sold out last Nov. 30.

Following the Mini-Marathon and 5K races, the participants, along with their families and friends, which reaches nearly 90,000 people, gather in the Rest & Recovery Area at Military Park in downtown Indianapolis. Participants have the chance to relax and receive food and drinks, while enjoying post-race entertainment.

The post-race party takes place until 2 p.m.

Following is a listing of some of the other 500-Festival and 500-Mile Race events this month:

Qualification days

The first day of qualifications for the race or Pole Day is Saturday, May 10. The second day to qualify will be May 11; the third qualifying day is May 17 and the final day or bump day is May 18.

Breakfast at the Brickyard

The 500 Festival will welcome mayors from all across Indiana to celebrate this annual event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

This year’s event features open wheel racing champion, team owner and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal as the guest speaker. The breakfast is Saturday, May 17 at 9:30 a.m. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Plaza Pavilion.

Guests will enjoy a breakfast, the opportunity to see the 2008 500 Festival Queen crowned, take a lap around the famed oval in their own vehicle, tour the garages and experience the third day of qualifying for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

Kids’ Day on Monument Circle

Engage the whole family at the Sunday, May 18 Festival Kids’ Day — called the state’s largest outdoor free festival for children. There will be plenty of family friendly activities and entertainment galore from noon-4 p.m. on Monument Circle. The Care Bears are the featured entertainment with three performances on the IndyMoms.com stage.

Here’s just a sampling of what this fun-filled day has in store for you and your family:

• Free live performances of the Care Bears.

• Over 10,000 prizes from dozens of exhibitors. No one leaves empty-handed.

• Mini car racing.

• Giant inflatable mountains to climb and conquer.

• “Racy” arts and crafts to create with Young Audiences of Indiana artists, Princess sashes with the 500 Festival Princesses, puppets, pop can race cars and more.

• Games, face painting, clowns and your favorite local mascots.

Rookie Run

Also on May 18 from 1-3 p.m.
 at Ohio and Meridian streets, all kids ages 3-12, are invited to join the Rookie Run. It’s a non-competitive fun run where everyone goes away a winner. The Rookie Run, which compliments the Festival Mini-Marathon, is a great way for kids to stay physically fit. All participants will receive a goodie bag, a runner’s bib with the number 1 and a finisher’s medal — just like the Mini-Marathon participants. On-site registration begins at 11 a.m. Pre-registration is also available at all Indianapolis Chase Bank locations.

500 Festival Community Day

Community Day will be Wednesday May 21 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 
from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Tickets are $7 per person; kids 6 and under free. Enter gate 10 off 30th Street to drive your car around the track. Experience this unique opportunity of taking a lap around the track in your own car before the real race cars hit the track just four days later.

A host of activities await you during community day, including:

• Lap the raceway in your own car.

• Tour the IRL car transport trailers.

• Visit Pit Lane and watch Pit Stop practice of real crews.

• Get autographs from Pro Series drivers and past champions.

• Take a Victory Circle photo — just like you’re the winner in a car with a trophy, a wreath, a princess and a glass of milk.

• Tour suites and the official timing and scoring area in the pagoda.

• Enjoy live music, entertainment and video games.

Festival Memorial Service

On Friday May 23 at 11 a.m. on the north steps of Soldiers and Sailors Monument will be the annual Festival Memorial Service.

Hoosiers are remembered who gave their lives while serving in the armed forces. Principal speaker will be Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., an Indiana University graduate.

500 Festival Parade

Celebrating 51 years of tradition, the 500 Festival Parade will return to the streets of downtown Indianapolis on Saturday, May 24 beginning at noon.
More than 300,000 spectators will kick off race weekend while enjoying time with family and friends by watching the pageantry and larger-than-life floats light up the city.

The 33 starting drivers of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race will serve as honorary grand marshals for the parade, riding in the traditional rows of three, with the winner of the pole position bringing up the rear.

The parade will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 and locally on WISH-TV (Channel 8).

Snakepit Ball

R&B super group the O’Jays will headline the Snakepit Ball on May 24 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Indiana Roof Ballroom.

The O’Jays have been international stars for more than 40 years. The black-tie party includes celebrities in town for the race and VIP guests. WISH-TV will telecast the red carpet arrival of guests at 6 p.m.

92nd running of the 500-Mile Race

Public gates at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Race Day May 25 will open at 6 a.m. Driver introductions will begin at 12:30 p.m. and the 92nd Indianapolis 500 will begin at 1 p.m.

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