An open letter to second-tier celebs, re: 500 Festival Parade

May 24, 2013
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The following is an open letter to second-tier celebrities everywhere ... but especially in Hollywood.

Dear second-tier celebrity:

Greetings from Indianapolis. No, not Minneapolis. The town with the big race this time of year. Maybe you’ve heard of it. “Start your engines” and all that. Ring a bell? Remember the guy who won “Dancing with the Stars” a few years back? Yeah, that one.

In addition to the Indy 500, Memorial Day weekend means a big parade in Indianapolis. Once in a while, a big-name celeb is actually a part of it. (Think mid-“Grey’s Anatomy” Patrick Dempsey.)

But you don’t have to be a star-star to get a positive reaction here. Or even a star. In the past, Indy crowds have offered thunderous cheers for Christopher McDonald. 

No clue?

He’s the guy who played bad guy Shooter McGavin in the movie “Happy Gilmore.” Yeah, that guy.

And that’s where you come in. This year, the 500 Festival Parade is a bit light not just on big-name stars, but even on medium-name and no-name stars.

It’s got the drivers, of course, plus the champion Indiana Fever, and other top-notch athletes (hello, Olympians Shawn Johnson, Jordyn Wieber and Tyler Clary). But apart from the welcome return of the newlywed Jim Nabors, there’s a dearth of celebrities. Actually, if you were here, you—be you Carrot Top, David Spade, Michael Bolton or anyone who dated Barney on “How I Met Your Mother”—probably would be among the most recognizable people in the parade. Journalists would be hounding you with questions (something that might not have happened to you in quite some time, if at all). Fans would scream.

(Side note to Jamie Kennedy and Vivaca A. Fox: You’re coming to town for HorrorHound weekend in September? You couldn’t pay a visit in May?) 

For the record, the 500 Festival has a committee that gives the thumbs-up or -down on parade participants. But surely you—be you Corey Feldman, C. Thomas Howell, Dave Coulier or any non-Alec Baldwin—could pass that test.

So think about it for next year. Have your people (or person) call our people. Indy knows how to take care of those celebrities who somehow find us. And, in return, you get to be a part of a great American tradition. 

No, the 500 Festival doesn’t pay its celebrities. But it also doesn’t demand much. You just have to wave. And you get to see the race.

You might even meet Jim Nabors.


Lou Harry, IBJ

P.S. Your thoughts?

  • Special
    Way to make them feel special Lou. I'm glad you catered to their egos!
  • Easy
    We just gave the IMS $100 million. A super quick Google search reveals that Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Loretta Lynn, and Kenny Rogers (!) are going to be in the area this weekend. Make some calls and cut some checks. That's how a real city would do it.
  • Indy 500 no longer needs celebrities?
    Good article, Lou. Your paper reported it costs $7-10,000 to host a "celebrity" at the Indy 500. I would think inviting a half dozen or so stars would add to the festival activities. Too bad the 500 Festival Committee doesn't feel the same way. For example, John McGinley (Platoon, Wall Street, Scrubs), on the JMV radio show, raved about coming to the Indy 500 and said, "If they invited me, I'll be there." But no interest from the Festival poobahs. Guess the Indy 500 is content to ignore getting any kind of celebrity buzz for the race. Oh well, at least Gene Simmons isn't coming.
  • Celebrities
    Note to seem to be looking at the wrong age group....we should be featuring teen mom and her baby with a big screen showing her most recent movie, Barbie look a likes and of course all the affluent realty show actors. that will get you on the front page of "E"
  • Sorry - wrong paper
    My apologies, Lou - it was the Indy Star that printed cost for entertaining "celebrities" during Indy 500. Sorry for confusing the always timely IBJ with Indy's Gannett reprint news source.
  • Why bother wih celebrities?
    It is unfortunate that there is a perception that celebrities validate an event. The Indy 500 stands on its own, especially for those coming in from out of town. It was always so disturbing to read the gushing descriptions of Ashley Judd threaded throughout the local coverage. Very happy that era is at an end.
  • ?
  • We are so lucky
    Maybe Mayor Bollard could have invited some of his cricket buddies. Perhaps a surtax on everyone who wishes they lived in Chicago would do the trick. The money could be used to bribe B-listers to come here next year. On the bright side, Jim Nabors and Sandi Patty where in the hood. We are so lucky to call Indianapolis home.
  • wow
    What an incredibly defensive, passive aggressive and artless post. Why would anyone, celebrity or not, want to be associated with a city whose ostensible arts thought-leadership writes this way?
  • BORING parade!!
    The motorcycle drill team, the few marching bands and drivers were the most exciting things in the parade! If we can't get quality floats and celebrities that people recognize why bother going!
  • May events
    I attens the parade every year. This was the least exciting and one of the best attended parades in a decade. Where were the clowns? Did we forget to invite the shrine clowns? Where were the parade officials whose job it is to keep the parade from having gaps? Seems trivial until I realize we actually had time to eat lunch between floats/bands. I hope thw new Festval President brings back a mixture of the passion to host quality events that allow locals to participate and spectate. Since what I refer to as the year Disney ruined the parade by limiting local participation in favor of big names and outside contractors, then left town never to return. Without a succession plan the parade has floundered ever since. Thank you to fellow loyal local spectators, fans, and volunteers. I plan to continue to attend events and have high hopes for new leadership.
    • apology
      Maybe typing this on my smart phone wasn't the best decision..... It lines to interpret spellings.....

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