Columbus native Tony Stewart will be near the front of the pack, but moving considerably slower than he is accustomed, when the 26th annual Festival of Lights Parade winds its way up Washington Street Saturday.

The car-racing champion, who just wrapped up his 18-year career as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, will be the special guest of Mayor Jim Lienhoop for the event, which will find rows of spectators lining Washington and Third streets along the 6 p.m. parade route.

Stewart, Lienhoop and the mayor’s wife, Pam, will share a blue Indy 500 special edition Chevrolet Camaro convertible provided by Chevrolet of Columbus, dealership spokesman Fred Armstrong said.

The limited-edition 2016 model is one of 100 made.

Stewart last appeared in the Columbus parade five years ago to the day, following his third and final NASCAR series championship as a driver, riding in a Camaro with Armstrong, the city’s mayor at the time.

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.