This year's Fourth of July parade will shine a spotlight on Bexley residents who take an active role in the community.
Among them is Kelly Holden Allen, who will be featured as the Citizen of the Year.
Allen moved to Bexley along with her husband, Matt, and their sons Jack, 15, and Ben, 13, a few years ago when Matt accepted a job with Nationwide Insurance. Allen said she and her family quickly grew fond of Bexley.
She said she appreciates "the schools, being able to walk to restaurants and the movies, the age of the homes and the fact that it's an older community, the tree-lined streets and the proximity to Downtown."
After moving to Bexley, "almost immediately, Kelly got involved in volunteer-driven activities," said Bexley City Council member Anne Lewis, one of the organizers of the city's Fourth of July activities.
Allen, who works in sales and runs an online magazine, is involved in numerous community activities, including serving as a board member for the farmer's market and serving as co-chairwoman of the Greater Bexley Community Cleanup.
The cleanup, especially, tends to bring the community together, Allen said.
"It's been a great event because it's not only a cleanup, it gives people an opportunity to donate items they no longer need, like electronics," she said. "There's a lot of kids involved, Girl Scout troops."
Allen also helps the Development Assets Resource Network organize its annual Shop Hop. The event encourages residents to patronize local businesses and raises funds for the Jeffrey Summer Camp Scholarship Program.
"It's great to be able to raise funds and help the local community, and to see those funds come in right away," Allen said.
Other community events that Allen helps to coordinate include the Main Event, the monthly summer movie series that is being presented this year on Capital University's front lawn.
Being involved in the community is rewarding on many levels, Allen said.
"It's self-serving because I enjoy it. Initially, it was a great way to meet people because we were new to the community," she said. Being able to contribute "feels great because you see the community benefiting."
Community spirit is one of Bexley's best amenities, Allen said.
"One of the things that stands out about Bexley is there are a lot of people who are very passionate about the community," she said. "It's a small community, but very close-knit. You see that, and it definitely rubs off."
While Allen will be recognized as the Citizen of the Year, former mayor John Brennan's wife, Ann, and family will serve as grand marshals for the parade. The former mayor, who died in January 2012, always looked forward to participating in community activities, Lewis said.
"So many people miss John's physical presence, but his love of the city remains ever-present in people's minds," Lewis said.
Bexley's July Fourth celebration spans nearly the entire day Thursday, July 4.
The John Barr 5K run, which starts and ends in front of Jeffrey Mansion, 165 N. Parkview Ave., begins at 8 a.m., allowing participants to finish in time to find a spot to watch the parade.
Registration for the run is $25 in advance, $30 the day of the event. To register online, visit premierraces.com. Forms also are available at the Bexley Public Library, City Hall, Jeffrey Mansion or Bexley pool. The first 325 people to register will receive shirts.
The parade of floats and bands steps off at 9:30 a.m. at Maryland Avenue/Remington Road and continues for 2.8 miles to Fair Avenue and Cassingham.
The Community Celebration will be held from 6 to 9:50 p.m. on the front lawn of Capital University, 1 College and Main. There will be family events, music and food.
The celebration ends with fireworks at 10 p.m. Fireworks are launched from the field between College Avenue and Pleasant Ridge Avenue, and several viewing areas will be available around Capital's Campus Center off Pleasant Ridge Avenue.
Volunteers are needed at the evening celebration, at various points throughout the day and for cleanup Friday morning. Volunteers typically work a shift of one to two hours. Those interested in serving may call Bexley's recreation department at 614-559-4300 or email Barb Greiner at firstname.lastname@example.org.