The seventh-annual Indiana Humanities Historic Bar Crawl on Wed., July 24, brought to life some of the lesser known stories from the “amateur sports capital of the world.” The theme: “Huddle Up: A Boozy Throwback Through Indy Sports History.” Almost 200 “crawlers” set afoot through downtown Indy’s southside neighborhood, with The Union 525 serving as home base. A night to remember, read on to relive some of our favorite moments from this year’s event.
A Sense of Surprise: Indianapolis, no doubt a sports-driven city, is mostly known for events like the Indy 500 and teams like the Colts and Pacers. While topics like these were incorporated in smaller ways throughout the event, we surprised attendees by featuring less well-known stories in Indy sports history. One such surprise was the story of Senator Birch Bayh and his involvement in Title IX legislation in 1972. At this bar crawl stop, attendees celebrated the passage of the legislation which gave women equal access to athletic opportunities in colleges and universities, all while snacking on 1970’s-inspired French bread pizza. And a red leisure suit, to boot!
Turners and Turnfests: When German immigrants arrived in the 19th century, they brought with them a robust gymnastics culture. Participants were welcomed into the scene at Gate Ten Events as “ladies” who had just arrived at a gymnastics training to be led by local Turnverein women. Crawlers were guided through authentic turn-of-the-century shoulder exercises and fancy feet techniques. They were rewarded after their group exercise with libations and German-inspired pretzels and cheese.
Mickey’s Mojito: In 1987, Walt Disney World sponsored the Pan American Games hosted in Indianapolis. The welcoming ceremony, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was decked out in Mickey Mouse balloons and other Disney icons. Yet the event was not all fun and games as it occurred during a period of heightened Cold War tension. When Fidel Castro sent Cuba’s largest contingent to the Indy games, at least three anti-Castro groups also descended with the goal of stirring up controversy. Playing homage to both of these ideas, attendees sipped on “Mickey’s Mojito” which combined themes of Disney’s sponsorship as well as Cuba’s presence during the games. Bonus: we were able to track down some real artifacts from the game and incorporate them into the scene, including an original banner from the games on loan from Mayoral Archives at the University of Indianapolis.
Making an Entrance: At our home base location, The Union 525 (a former public high school,) crawlers were invited into the space’s gymnasium via slide. Yes— we said slide. Sure, there were stairs, but who wouldn’t want to make this kind of entrance? The starting party also included casual games of basketball, jumbo-sized Jenga, and a “photobooth” opportunity with the Pan Am game’s mascot himself, Amigo.
Swag: What would bar crawl be without swag? This year not only did participants get to take home miniature foam fingers, but volunteer group leaders were decked out as coaches in referee jerseys, whistles, and clipboards. Actors also represented their specific time period in unique ways. At the Pan Am Games scene, one actor wore the actual jacket sported by Organizing Committee Chairman and CEO of the games himself, Ted Boehm!
Crazy Song: The success of the Crispus Attucks Tigers was a major rebuke to the ideology of segregation in Indianapolis when they won back-to-back state basketball championships in 1955 and 1956. However, after their first win, the team was not allowed the opportunity to stop at Monument Circle during their celebratory parade as was customary in the past. Rather, they were redirected through downtown to Indiana Avenue, the heart of the city’s African American community. Celebrating their win nonetheless, attendees participated in singing the “Crazy Song.” Their famous chant bellows “Hi-de, hi-de, hi-de, Hi . . . Hi-de, hi-de, hi-de, Ho” followed with “They could beat everybody, but they can’t beat us!” The Attucks continued to prove themselves worthy of being respected on and off the court by going on to win a second championship in 1956. They no doubt won over our bar crawlers!
Off to the Races: Perhaps the most unexpected stop of the evening was the HandleBar Bike Bar. Marshall “Major” Taylor welcomed participants to the year 1905 at the height of his world-renowned cycling career. Born and trained in Indianapolis, Taylor met fierce resistance in cycling because of his race and chose to primarily race in Europe to avoid hostilities at home. At this scene, Taylor, who happened to be visiting from Europe, asked crawlers to test out the “newest” technology in cycling—a.k.a. the HandleBar. Our crawlers approved!