Bexley's Fourth of July celebration starts with a race and ends with fireworks.

Bexley's Fourth of July celebration starts with a race and ends with fireworks.

"I think the whole day is just an incredible community day starting with the race, continuing with the parade and going through the evening," said Anne Lewis of the Bexley Celebrations Association, which recently announced Fourth of July plans in conjunction with the city's recreation department and Capital University.

Lewis said organizers have maximized the community experience by holding the fireworks and evening activities at Capital. The fireworks were held at Capital for the first time last year. Previously, they were held at Wolfe Park.

The city's 101st Independence Day celebration kicks off with the John Barr 5K at 8 a.m. July 4 at Jeffrey Mansion. Lewis said former recreation director John Barr started the race 10 years ago, and every year there are 400 to 500 runners.

Proceeds from this year's race will go to a scholarship fund for senior citizens interested in attending recreation activities, said Bexley recreation specialist Barb Greiner.

"We came up with this discount program to offer to seniors who participate in yoga, exercise classes and things like that," she said.

The race is a great fit for the Fourth of July celebration because participants still have time to go home and take a shower and get back to their parade station, Greiner said.

The parade, which begins at 9:30 a.m., will be led this year by Capital University president Denvy Bowman as grand marshal. The parade route is Maryland Avenue to North Roosevelt, North Roosevelt to Mound Street, Mound to Pleasant Ridge, Pleasant Ridge to Fair and Fair to Cassingham, ending at the high school complex.

It is important to select someone for grand marshal who is a significant contributor to the overall sense of creating a community in Bexley, Lewis said. Bowman was the perfect choice because of Capital's relationship to the celebration, she said.

There will be more vendors this year, including food and information vendors like the Bexley Chamber of Commerce and Capital. The Bexley High School ensemble will sing the national anthem before the fireworks.

Organizers are expecting close to 120 parade entries. Numbers will be down a little, Lewis said, because the holiday falls on a Saturday and organizations like the Jewish War Veterans cannot participate. There will be floats, antique cars and bands, she said.

As part of the celebration, the Bexley Celebrations Association honors a citizen of the year. This year, the Bexley recreation staff is being honored for its commitment to the Bexley Celebrations Association and the community.

Lewis said the recreation staff has an affect on nearly every family in the city.

"They pour endless hours of planning into the Fourth of July, Easter egg hunt and harvest festival," she said.

Evening activities start at 5 p.m. at Capital. Several bands will play on the Capital quad. The food, games and music will end with the Columbus Saints Drumline leading participants back to the soccer field for the fireworks.

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com