INDIANAPOLIS — Every year since 1947, the Indianapolis 500 pre-race ceremonies have been capped off with a release of thousands of balloons into the air during the singing of “Back Home Again In Indiana.”
This year that tradition will not take place for the 106th running of the race. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway released this statement this morning on the balloon release:
“The primary objective of our pre-race show is to bring people together as we honor our military heroes, celebrate sporting excellence, and build the excitement and anticipation level as we prepare for the command to start engines. While we understand the historical connection of the balloon release to many of our fans, we have paused it for now and will continue to evaluate the best opportunities to celebrate our event’s unique legacy and traditions moving forward. We are confident that this year’s pre-race activities will be as exciting and celebratory as any we have had at IMS.”
The balloon release has been called into question over the last few years, primarily by environmental advocates. The concern is that the balloons, once they pop in the air and fall to the ground, pollute many areas of central Indiana.
It’s also said to be a hazard to fish, birds, and other animals.