Event Overview

mlk

White River State Park celebrates MLK, Jr. Day with free admissions on January 16.

Visitors to White River State Park attractions will receive free admission and free parking on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16, with a canned good donation (one can per person, per attraction).

In addition to enjoying the attractions themselves, MLK Jr. Day visitors to the Park can:

  • Watch films with Dr. King’s speeches at the Indiana State Museum.
  • View “Game of Change,” a film featuring a historic basketball game in 1963 where Mississippi State disregarded an unwritten Mississippi rule against playing integrated teams, at the NCAA Hall of Champions.
  • Catch Jingle Rails at the Eiteljorg Museum the day before it chugs out of town.
  • Get a free ticket to the Indianapolis Indians’ season opener if they complete a health screening at the State Museum.
  • See animals that love the cooler temperatures and plenty of indoor exhibits at the Zoo.
  • Experience the IMAX® film “Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience” for free.

Since it started 17 years ago, the Park’s partnership with Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana on this one-day, annual event has resulted in more than 95 tons of non-perishable, canned food donations.

“The food drive not only helps Hoosiers in need, but allows families to enjoy these wonderful facilities at no cost,” said John Elliott, Gleaners’ president & CEO.

Special activities will take place throughout the day at most of the major attractions that make up White River State Park: Eiteljorg Museum, IMAX® Theater, Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis Zoo and the NCAA® Hall of Champions. The Indianapolis Indians will have activities at the State Museum.

“I love how our visitors rise to the occasion by filling the donation bins to benefit those less fortunate, while enjoying plenty of entertainment and healthy activities throughout the day,” said Carolene Mays-Medley, executive director of White River State Park.

The following FREE activities at Park attractions will be taking place on MLK Day:

  • NCAA Hall of Champions:  Get your workout in at the NCAA Hall of Champions where current and former student athletes lead classes. Guests can participate in a scavenger hunt and register for hourly raffle prizes. At 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., watch the film “Game of Change,” involving the 1963 NCAA men’s basketball tournament regional semifinal.  Mississippi State, an all-white team, sneaks out of town in the middle of the night despite protests from the governor and state police of Mississippi to play a Loyola team that features four black starters. Mississippi State overcame an unwritten Mississippi rule against playing integrated teams with a cloak-and- dagger flight to the North just one step ahead of a court injunction.
  • Indianapolis Zoo: Visitors can walk the grounds and see animals, especially the ones that love the cooler temperatures. Favorite activities will include petting sharks, looking eye-to-eye with orangutans and gazing at dolphins (presentations are at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30p.m.).
  • IMAX Theater: Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience, narrated by Brad Pitt, the film is a one-of- a-kind celebration of life and the grand history of the cosmos, transporting audiences into a vast yet up close and personal journey that spans the eons from Big Bang to the dinosaur age to our present human world… and beyond. Shown for free as space permits at 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m. and 3 p.m. Make sure to get your IMAX tickets early that morning as there is limited seating capacity and tickets are typically gone before noon.
  • Indiana State Museum: Films, activities and performance art fill the museum in celebration of the life and times of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Indiana First Robotics Team from Southport High School will make a special appearance, and the Farmer’s Market Café will offer lunch.
  • Eskenazi Health and the Indianapolis Indians will offer free health screenings at the Indiana State Museum. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., nurses will also be available to discuss the importance of primary and preventive care. Anyone who participates in the health screenings will receive a complimentary ticket to Opening Night at Victory Field on April 6 courtesy of the Indianapolis Indians. Plus, Rowdie, the Indians mascot, will stop by for autographs between 11 a.m. and noon.
  • Eiteljorg Museum: Visitors can immerse themselves in Native American and Western cultures with the museum’s many exhibits. It’s your last chance to visit Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure, a one-of- a-kind G-scale train experience featuring the Vegas Strip, Mt. Rushmore, Yosemite, the Golden Gate Bridge, Soldiers and Sailors Monument and much more. Named a USA Today “10 Best” Indy holiday attraction in 2014, Jingle Rails features trains that chug along nearly 1,200 feet of track through a network of trestles, bridges and tunnels with detailed replicas of national treasures.

The Park is also offering complimentary parking on MLK, Jr. Day. Visitors may park in the underground garage located off Washington Street in front of the Indiana State Museum, in the surface parking lots at the Indianapolis Zoo and Victory Field, and in the surface parking lot across from Victory Field next to the Park’s Visitor’s Center.  Parking is not guaranteed and is on a first-come, first-served basis.