Findlay Market Opening Day Parade At 100: How Cincinnati Is Celebrating

Mar 28, 2019

As Grand Marshal, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred will get to see first-hand just how special Opening Day is in Cincinnati. On Thursday the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade turns 100, and major league baseball celebrates its 150th anniversary. It was May 4, 1869, when the Cincinnati Red Stockings - the ancestors of the Cincinnati Reds - played their first professional game and went on to finish 57-0 that season.

Reds President Phil Castellini can't promise that kind of finish in 2019 but is looking to more wins this year. He calls the parade one of the coolest things happening in baseball. Other major league cities wish they had a parade and ask how Cincinnati does it, according to Parade Chairman Neil Luken.

The parade in 1950.
Credit Courtesy of the Corporation for Findlay Market

Luken says the response to a call for entries has been unbelievable and he's sorry he can't accept everyone. The parade starts at noon and goes down Race Street and across Fifth.

"We want to have one heck of a crowd for Commissioner Manfred so if we ever have this problem in the scheduling (like in 2018) he'll know exactly what happens here in Cincinnati. So we're hoping for a couple hundred thousand people."  

In 2018, the parade was not on Opening Day because it was too close to Easter and merchants at Findlay Market didn't want to lose business. Despite that, thousands lined the streets the Monday following the game to watch the parade.

The parade in 1998.
Credit Jeffrey Gladdish / Courtesy of Corporation for Findlay Market

Here are some highlights for 2019:

  • 18 high school bands
  • Archdiocese of Cincinnati marchers wearing the Latin words "pila ludunt!" (play ball)
  • Mascots from nine Catholic high schools
  • The Clydesdale horses
  • Disney Dumbo float
  • Replica of U.S.S. Cincinnati
  • Giant monster truck float
  • Huge Reds float with throwback uniforms

The parade circa 1930.
Credit FindlayMarketParade.com / Courtesy of the Corporation for Findlay Market

The Reds game against the Pittsburgh Pirates begins at 4:10 p.m. with Bronson Arroyo delivering the game ball, Eric Davis throwing out the first pitch, Johnny Bench catching and Joe Morgan as captain.

Reds President Castellini says the team will celebrate its 150th anniversary all season long. A Mr. Redlegs bench campaign begins in April. In May, an 1869 pavilion will be dedicated with the nine starting players in bronze. On July 5, it's the Reds Rockin 150.

WVXU is celebrating with a special column by Howard Wilkinson, "Cincinnati Reds at 150," commemorating the anniversary.