When you turn 100, they throw you a parade.
“The 100th running, right? It’s memories for a lifetime,” said Colts guard Joe Reitz.
Reitz grew up in Fishers, Indiana and played football for Hamilton Southeastern. He and his family represented the Colts on Saturday by riding in the 500 Festival Parade.
“It’s a dream come true. It’s cliché, but it really is. It’s a special day for me and our family, my wife, Jill, and our three kids, Juliana, AJ, and Virginia. They got to participate and wave to everybody. There’s an energy and excitement in this city this weekend and we’re just blessed to be able to be a part of it.”
And the crowd had plenty of hometown cheers for him.
“It’s great to see so many people come out here that are yelling, ‘Go Colts!’ and yelling, ‘Super Bowl!’ and yelling, ‘We’re cheering for you!’ The fan support that we get in this city and this state is unbelievable,” he said. “They bleed blue 365.”
Colts cheerleader Sammy T. also grew up in the Indianapolis area. Her second year participating in the parade was just as humbling as her first.
“This is what, the third largest parade in the United States? It’s kind of like watching the Macy’s Day parade, but I’m in it instead of watching.”
And growing up, this girl loved a parade.
“When I went to parades as a little girl, whenever they were over, I would stomp my feet and throw a hissy fit in the middle of the crowd.”
She did no such thing when the parade was over today.
For Lexie C., it was her fourth time in the 500 Festival Parade, but it was her first as a Colts cheerleader.
“I came from Illinois and Purdue is what led me to this area. But it’s been awesome getting to be involved in the third largest parade in the nation. It’s fantastic to see the whole community come together and just get so excited about one big event.”
Over the last few weeks, many of the rookie cheerleaders put on the uniform for the first time.
“Oh my gosh, it was awesome!” Lexie said. “It was so fun getting to just stand alongside the entire team and put together our first big performance that we’ve been working on.”
“I felt like a superhero. All the little kids were coming up to me and asking for pictures and it was so much fun,” said Alexis R.
“As soon as you put that uniform on, it’s like, ‘This is official. This is real,’” said Jessica R. “You’re wearing the horseshoe. You’re representing the horseshoe.”
And they couldn’t have represented it better.
Surrounded by young dancers, the Colts Cheerleaders and the Indiana Pacemates performed with the pop band Walk Off The Earth to start the parade.
Afterwards, they joined the Reitz family, Blue, and the Junior Cheerleaders along the parade route, making lots of new friends along the way.
It was a day full of ceremony and celebration prior to the historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
And it all leads up to Memorial Day and the real reason for the long holiday weekend.
Thank you to our military service members past and present, who give us a country to celebrate – and the freedom to do so.