Fans kick off race weekend at Indy 500 Festival Parade, IMS

More than 300k fans lined downtown Indy

INDIANAPOLIS - Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon to usher in one of the busiest weekends of the year.

An estimated 300,000 people lined the downtown route of the annual 500 Festival Parade.

PHOTOS: Race Weekend Events

There were marching bands, celebrities, floats and balloons. It was a great family event the day before the Indianapolis 500.

“Born and raised here and I never came here as a kid, but I wanted to bring my kids. I’ve got my husband here and they wanted to see this. They love the balloons and all of the people, so this is fun,” said Mandy Harper.

Although there were no cars on the track Saturday, thousands of fans were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to celebrate the unique Memorial Day weekend traditions that legends of the Indy 500 still find irresistible.

“I still get the chills when I drive through the gate coming in here,” said 3-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford.

PHOTOS: Meet the Drivers

The race caps off a month filled with unpredictability, from weather to the hometown winner of the pole position.

Now all that is left is the race and 250,000 fans will be at the track Sunday to witness the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt

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