By Mark Ambrogi
Sommer Scarpino doesn’t take this crown lightly.
The Carmel resident was named as one of the 33 Indy 500 Festival princesses last month.
“I’ve always loved Indiana sports and Indiana traditions,” Scarpino said. “From what I had heard about 500 Festival princess program it was just a combination of things I’m passionate about. It’s a lot of community service and getting involved in Indiana’s big events around the (Indianapolis) 500.”
The 500 Festival princesses volunteer at the Mini-Marathon and help out at Kids Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway along with taking part in 500 Festival Parade and Indianapolis 500 race day activities.
Scarpino, a 2011 Heritage Christian High School graduate, is a Purdue senior majoring in communication and Spanish. Scarpino, who served as intern for the Indianapolis Colts last summer in the marketing and events department, hopes to pursue a career in the sports industry.
Scarpino has visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when she was in elementary school.
“My family has a tradition of listening to the race on radio so I have really good memories of not actually going to the race but listening to it with my whole family,” Scarpino said. “I’m really excited not only to be going to the race but to actually have a role in it. The princesses are also in the parade that is something I went to when I was younger. We are there for the driver introductions and in Victory Lane after the race.”
The princess requirements are to be an Indiana resident and attend an Indiana college.
Scarpino, 22, is one of more than 200 college-aged women (ages 18 to 23) who applied for the princesses. The original group was cut down to 66. After a final interview, it is cut to 33 princesses, the traditional number of cars in the Indianapolis 500 starting lineup.
“It was a tough interview process and a little bit intimidating, but obviously things worked out,” Scarpino said.
Scarpino will take part in the Princess Reception on April 18, which marks the start of the princesses’ events. Scarpino has already began to make friends with the other princesses.
“That’s been another wonderful benefit to this, meeting so many amazing girls,” Scarpino said. “We’re all like-minded. We’re all involved in our colleges and we’re driven. We love the tradition of the 500 and we’ve all clicked very well.
“Purdue is the most represented college this year, which is cool.”
Personal: Has a brother Nick, 24. Parents are Anne and Will Scarpino. Sommer played tennis her freshman and sophomore year in high school before a knee injury ended her career.
Hobbies: “It’s cliche but I love spending time with friends and being outdoors. I like to read. I do like to cook and bake.”
Favorite sport: “It’s definitely football. I’m a huge NFL fan. Working for the Colts was amazing because I’ve always loved football. I’ve followed it for years.”
Favorite TV show: “Friday Night Lights.”
Favorite type of music: “I like the singer-songwriter genre. Kind of like coffeehouse music is what I listen to the most.”