By B. Scott Mohr
With floats, marching bands and enough classic cars to open a dealership of vintage automobiles, the eighth annual ABC Miracle Mile Parade promises to thrill when it gets under way at 11 a.m. Saturday. www.miraclemileparade.com
There will also be color guards, miniature cars and motorcycles, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department motorcycle drill team and horse patrol, strolling clowns, cheerleaders from the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers and much more.
The parade is the centerpiece of Gateway Fest, which includes a classic car show, a bike ride, music, an art show, a kids zone and many more activities for all ages.
Thousands of people are expected to watch the parade as it rolls along a one-mile stretch of Madison Avenue between Southern and Sumner avenues. That area in the 1950s and ’60s was known as the Miracle Mile because of its vibrant commerce.
And since Mother Nature looks like she will be smiling favorably on this year’s parade – the forecast is for partly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-70s at the parade’s start – spectators and participants won’t have to roast in 100-degree heat as in 2011. And they shouldn’t have to worry about a repeat of 2012, when all events were canceled due to threatening conditions.
Featuring about 80 entries, more than 1,100 participants and 150-plus vehicles, the parade steps off in the 2600 block of Madison with former Indianapolis Fire Department Chief Brian Sanford serving as grand marshal. A 30-year member of the department, Sanford said he was honored to be named the grand marshal.
This year’s parade boasts the theme “Made in Indiana,” according to Jeff Cardwell of the Gateway Community Alliance, which is a sponsor; Associated Builders and Contractors is the title sponsor. Cardwell said the theme is meant to celebrate Hoosier companies.
“Made in Indiana is a proud symbol of the hard work that takes place every day across the Hoosier State, and it’s reflected in the many unique and innovative products that are manufactured by the companies that are based here,” he said. “What better way to celebrate our diverse and dedicated work force than to honor them over the Labor Day weekend.”
The alliance, which was responsible for the parade’s rebirth in 2007, not only sees the affair as a fun-filled event but as a catalyst to spur business along the corridor.
Over the past eight years more than $30 million has been invested in the area by private individuals.
The Gateway group envisions Madison Avenue with fresh sidewalks and tree- and flower-lined medians – some of which now meet that standard. Members hope to see businesses thrive, sleepy strip centers awaken and vacant buildings swell with merchants and shoppers.
The inaugural parade was held in May 1957, the brainchild of Key West Shrimp House owner Claude Kendall, whose aspiration was to bring families to the Southside to enjoy fine dining and first-class entertainment at the Garfield Park Amphitheater. Behind his leadership and a partnership with the Madison Avenue Businessmen’s Association, the parade was launched; however, it could not compete with the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade and was one-and-done.
Today, some 57 years later, the alliance has joined forces with private and public sectors to resurrect the event into a gala that Kendall would be proud of.
The day’s festivities get under way with a car show at Southern Plaza, 4200 S. East St., where all car show entrants will be treated to breakfast. The show, which will be held rain or shine, is open to all hot rods, customs, muscle and classic cars, trucks, specialty vehicles and motorcycles. Registration begins at 8 a.m., with the show at 11:30 a.m. Early registration is $15; on-site is $20. Entry forms are available at www.miraclemileparade.com. Call Chris Truran at 791-0420 for more information.
Now in its second year, the Miracle Mile Bike Ride is offering rides of 11, 24 and 43 miles. On-site registration will take place from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the Garfield Park Arts Center, 2450 Shelby St., with the starting point being the same as the parade. There is no cost to participate, and all participants must wear a helmet. Info: www.miraclemileparade.com.
A family fun zone will be set up from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at 2831 Madison, which is an ideal site to watch the parade. In addition to offering a prime viewing site, there will be children’s activities, interactive booths, music and food vendors.
And while previous parades have been capped by a concert and a fireworks show at Garfield Park, that’s not the case this year as organizers have canceled that aspect of the celebration.