Walt Evans Decorators, Inc., Brazil, constructed two of the parades, one of which won the Sweepstakes Trophy, the highest prize for floats in the parade.
The IPL float, sponsored by Indianapolis Power and Light, trophy, among a field of 12.
This year's parade was a continuation of the millennium celebration of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. IPL chose to demonstrate the celebration not only takes place on land, but also with a race conducted by "under the sea" creatures.
The giant seahorses and shell-like chariots were racing each other while electric eels spot lighted the event and an animated giant dolphin holding a birthday cake spun around and around.
A sea turtle was holding the checkered flag. The float had bubble machines on board and water spray nozzles that occasionally sprayed water at the spectators. The tow unit looked like an IRL car, but was actually a fiberglass shell situated over a John Deere garden tractor. The entire float measured 60-feet long, 21-feet wide and 14-feet tall. It took more than 2,500 man-hours to fully construct and the entire float was constructed by Walt Evans Decorators.
The float was never fully assembled in Brazil, but rather, components were made and transported to Indianapolis during the latter half of May. Days prior to the parade, the float was fully assembled at IPL's Service Center, under Interstate-70 in a fenced and secure storage lot.
The Sexton Float was contracted directly for the 500 Festival and sponsored by the Sexton Companies, an apartment and condominium holding company, originating in Speedway, Ind., in 1962. Ruth Sexton, owner of the company, began operations renting housing to some of the race drivers in Speedway.
It was her vision to take parade spectators inside one of the original, historical Gasoline Alley garages, once located inside the track.
The float showcased the various props, old logo signs, tools and even the recreated 1962 winning race car, driven by Rodger Ward.
The oil cans, telephone, oscillating fan and old Coke Machine were purchased over auction sites and the Internet. However, the car was sculpted from Styrofoam, given a hard-shell coat, painted and decaled accordingly. The wheel covers for the car were obtained at Bedwell Tires in Brazil. The float was also towed by a look-a-like IRL car fiberglass shell situated over a John Deere garden tractor driven by Jeremy Rollings, a Clay County resident and Production Manager at Walt Evans Decorators. The float received "Best Theme" award.
Walt Evans Decorators owners Dave and Ettie Evans have created a float in the annual parade since 1994, among other indoor displays each year. IPL has sponsored the parade the past few years and has also sponsored a float in every 500 Festival Parade since the parade's inception in 1957.
The parade travels south on Pennsylvania Street, beginning at North Street in downtown Indianapolis, west on Washington Street and then north on Meridian Street, proceeding halfway around the circle and ending at 10th Street. There were more than 80 units in the parade in addition to all 33 drivers.