What We Saw: 500 Festival Celebrities Pre-Parade

Shawn Johnson, Jordyn Wieber, Pat McAfee, Eddie Money, Drake Hogestyn, Gov. Mike Pence, and more regaled reporters and fans with laughs and photos.

A lineup of athletes, actors, and local notables met with reporters and fans both before slipping into their convertible cars to be seen by the roughly 300,000 comers to the 500 Festival Parade today. U.S. gymnasts Shawn Johnson (retired) and Jordyn Wieber, a member of the 2012 London Olympics “Fierce Five,” led the group, which also included country singer Tate Stevens, actor Windell Middlebrooks, and members of the rock band Foreigner performing at tonight’s Snakepit Ball at the Indiana Rooftop Ballroom downtown.

Drake Hogestyn of Days of Our Lives fame regaled WTHR anchor-reporter Annie Marie Tiernon with stories about their mutual upbringings in Fort Wayne, Ind. He was more game than anyone to speak to anyone who addressed (read: shouted at) him. Many of these stars approached fans who called out, patiently taking photos with them and signing papers, shirts, and whatever else was handed their way.

Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee engaged fans with the short-lived tale of how he hoped Eddie Money and Foreigner would get into a rock-star brawl behind the scenes—inside Central Library, of all places—but said that hadn’t been the case. “They hugged!” he exclaimed, faux-disappointed with a wink in his eye.

As he departed the Central Library steps for his ride, I said to Eddie Money, “Have fun today.” He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “We will. It’s what we’re here for.” His blonde wife, Laurie, looked on, amused as ever. They descended the steps and, with that, the parade was ready to go. Not quite “two tickets to paradise,” but it’ll do for now.

Photos by Enrique Fernandez and Jonathan Scott