Hilliard's Fourth of July parade promises to be safer this year, thanks to a policy change involving candy. And, with the help of an all-encompassing theme and a float-building workshop, participation is expected to increase.

Hilliard's Fourth of July parade promises to be safer this year, thanks to a policy change involving candy. And, with the help of an all-encompassing theme and a float-building workshop, participation is expected to increase.

Following the trend of many communities in recent years, candy will no longer be thrown from parade floats. Last year, a girl was injured when her foot was run over by a float during the parade.

This year, people who are walking with the floats can hand out candy and other items instead of tossing it out along the parade route.

With construction on the Triangle Project complete, the parade will start at the fairgrounds and go to Norwich Street, turn right on Cemetery Road, go through the roundabout and end at Municipal Park.

A contest was held for sixth-graders in the school district to select a parade theme. The winning entry, "Hilliard Past, Present, Future," was the idea of Tharp student Kelsey Rader. On March 23, Rader won a $25 savings bond and a pizza party for her class,. She will also get to ride in the parade.

More people may be riding in the parade, too.

A float-building workshop was given by Destination Hilliard on March 1, drawing 31 people from nonprofit groups, businesses, churches and neighborhood organizations. They received advice on how to build floats with materials like cardboard and Styrofoam.

"The groups were very pleasantly surprised at all the tips that they received, all the different techniques that you could do on a very limited budget," said Christy Clark, Destination Hilliard's executive director. "It was very practical, hands-on experience."

Parade marshal Jerry Baum said he hopes the workshop will attract more floats.

"Years ago, we had 16-18 floats, and it slowly dwindled away because of too many activities people have to do. They don't have time to build a float," Baum said.

Baum has been in charge of Hilliard's Fourth of July parade for 50 years.

"Way back that many years ago ... the guy that was the parade marshal left town on the third, and I was his assistant," Baum said. "I just took over that day and have been doing it ever since."

The Recreation and Parks Department handles the rest of the holiday festivities, with games, food, music and fireworks in the Municipal Park. Director Steve Mazer said he appreciates Baum's help.

"I don't mean to sound corny, but that's kind of the beauty of this town," Mazer said. "Jerry knows what he's doing and he does a great job."

According to a Destination Hilliard survey, the Fourth of July parade was the city's most popular event.

"One of the things that people who participated in this survey said was that they wanted more floats in the Fourth of July parade," Clark said.

Anyone interesting in entering a float in Hilliard's Fourth of July parade, or who wants float-building regulations and information, may email Clark at cclark@destinationhilliard.com.