500 Festival Princesses Tori Chandler & Sarah Knight

Writer  /  Julie Young
Photograph Provided

Tori Chandler

They may not live in a palace and they may not be invited to the next royal wedding, but Noblesville natives Tori Chandler and Sarah Knight are officially 500 Festival Princesses.

“There is a huge application process to become a 500 Festival Princess,” Chandler says. “You fill out an online application and if picked you get invited to participate in the first round of interviews. After that, they choose 66 to be interviewed by a panel of board members and from there, they select the final 33.”

The 22-year-old daughter of Jay and Kathy Chandler said she was ecstatic when she made the final cut, but she had to keep the news on the down-low until the official press release went out.

“It was a full three weeks of not being able to tell anybody besides a few close friends and my parents,” the St. Mary’s student says. “It was torture.”

Knight says she was doing homework on the campus of Butler University when she received the news, and the 20-year-old Health Science/Pre-PA major says she could not wait to call home and tell her parents John and Jennifer the news.

“I had the biggest smile on my face and I jumped up and down,” she says. “People around me had to think I was crazy, but I was too excited to care. I remember reading it two or three times because I was in disbelief.”

Sarah Knight

The 500 Festival was created in 1957 and has grown to become one of the largest festivals in the nation. The young women who are chosen to serve on the 500 Festival Court are ambassadors for the 500 Festival, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana, but that is just scratching the surface. The 500 Festival Princesses are involved with statewide outreach programs in each of their communities visiting schools, connecting with youth programs and serving various organizations. They also attend and volunteer at all 500 Festival events throughout the Month of May including those at the IMS, pre-race ceremonies and the Victory Circle Celebration.

“As with many Hoosiers, I am really looking forward to the month of May,” Knight says. “Becoming a 500 Festival Princess has opened so many doors to new opportunities. I have started new friendships with the other 32 princesses, sat in on professional leadership development sessions with prominent professionals in Indianapolis and have already had numerous opportunities to serve and educate others on the 500 Festival and Indianapolis 500. It is true that the tiara takes you to amazing places.”

Chandler says the Indianapolis 500 is the biggest single-day sporting event in the world, she is proud to be part of such a time-honored tradition. With the nearly 2,000 other women who have been princesses before her, she knows she has been accepted into a unique sisterhood of civic-minded and driven women. But like Knight, there is one other aspect of her new title that beats everything else.

“The tiara,” she says. “Seriously, not only is it a confidence boost when I put it on, but I also love the look on kids’ faces when I ask if they want to try the tiara on. Real princesses always share.”