After battling July Fourth midday heat for the past couple of years, officials in Groveport voted last week to start the annual Independence Day parade in the morning this year.
The annual July Fourth festivities draw an estimated 5,000 people to Groveport each year, many of whom are there specifically for the large parade.
"We have a lot of people that come out for the parade and that participate in the parade, including walking in the parade," July 4 Committee Chairman Bob Garvin said. "One thing we definitely learned from last year was to stop messing with Mother Nature. It probably won't be 110 degrees again this year but at 1:30 p.m., it's still hot."
Garvin approached Groveport City Council with a request to move the parade back from the traditional 1:30 p.m. start time to 11 a.m. He said the committee has been thinking this over since the storms and high temperatures last year caused several cancellations.
According to Garvin, the committee also wants to focus on making the celebration more of an all-day event, and members believe that "bookending" the day with the parade and the fireworks will accomplish that goal.
"The way the event is now, we have basically no vendors coming until about when the parade starts at 1:30, and they don't really get going until the parade is over," Garvin said. "So other than the parade, it really is just from 3 to 9 p.m. that the vendors and other activities are going. That's really not worth a lot of their time."
The committee, he said, hopes that by starting the parade earlier, more vendors will want to participate. A marketing subcommittee has been established to further that goal, he said.
Councilwoman Jan Stoots asked if this would affect whether the Groveport Madison High School band would be part of the parade.
"The Groveport Madison band marches in our parade but also in other parades, so hopefully, they're not already committed to another community," Stoots said.
Garvin said making the time change now would help avoid those conflicts.
"The school superintendent is also on the committee and he hasn't said anything about that being an issue," Garvin said.
"We hope this makes the whole thing flow easier and we'll make sure this time change is a main piece of marketing the event this year," Garvin said.