PHOENIX, Arizona, December 29. MISSY Franklin descended upon sunny Arizona to marshal today's Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade. The parade is held five days before the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 3, in Glendale, Arizona, in which No. 4 Oregon will compete against No. 5 Kansas State.
Franklin, a self-proclaimed fan of college football, was named Grand Marshall of the parade in early September. She follows in the footsteps of a number of Olympians to have previously received the honor, including Janet Evans, following the 1988 Olympics, and Arizona natives Gary Hall Jr. and Misty Hyman, who marshaled following the 2000 Olympics.
"It is an honor to join a list of U.S. Olympians who have been a part of the Fiesta Bowl Parade," Franklin said in regards to receiving the honor.
The 2.5-mile parade route ran this morning through central Phoenix. Colleges, universities and high schools locally and from around the nation sent marching bands and performers to march in the parade.
Last night, Franklin attended a VIP reception in preparation for the morning's parade. She spoke before a number of influential members of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and parade participants, including Yavapai Nation President Clinton Pattea. The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is the title sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl Parade.
Other Olympians to serve as Grand Marshal include Frank Shorter in 1976, Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992, Charles Barkley in 1994, Kerri Strug in 1996 and Jennie Finch in 2004.
At the Fiesta Bowl football game on January 3, Franklin will participate in several pre-game festivities, including the coin toss.
The following photos from the VIP reception, on December 28, are courtesy of Scott Mitchell:
Missy Franklin posing with the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl Parade Queen and Court.
Missy Franklin autographing posters.
Missy Franklin posing with members of the Fort McDowell Yavapai nation, including President Clinton Pattea.
Missy Franklin being wrapped in a traditional Yavapai blanket by members of the Fort McDowell Yavapai nation.
Missy Franklin speaking to the attendees of the VIP event the night before the parade.