Northland Community Council volunteers have put in the work to make this year's Fourth of July parade bigger than ever.

Northland Community Council volunteers have put in the work to make this year's Fourth of July parade bigger than ever.

Now they're calling on the community to help make the parade a success through volunteering on the day of the parade and by entering floats and community groups in the parade.

Local businesses also are being asked to step up and sponsor individual floats.

This year, to complement the selection of Columbus Police Chief Walter Distelzweig as grand marshal, the NCC has set the parade theme as "Northland: Working, Sharing & Protecting."

Participants are encouraged to find ways to reflect that theme in their entries, and as always, awards will be given out to the top entrants.

New to the parade this year will be a reviewing stand, which will be set up in front of the North YMCA facing Karl Road. Forest Park Civic Association vice president George Schmidt will serve as master of ceremonies, announcing parade participants as they pass.

"It takes it to the next level," said Steve Thompson, chairman of the NCC's Fourth of July committee. "We've always done a parade. We've never done anything different. We've never had a focus. This will give us that."

This year, the stand will be a simple platform with a microphone, Thompson said, but the hope is to keep the parade growing next year by adding a large reviewing stand with bleachers and a VIP seating section.

The Fourth of July committee also hopes to add some after-parade events to the Fourth of July calendar next year, Thompson said.

"We're hoping to take it up a notch again next year," he said.

Returning to this year's parade will be the Northland and Beechcroft high school marching bands. There also will be the traditional flyover of Air National Guard planes, and the Northland High School state champion basketball team will join the parade.

Thompson said the goal is to amp up the event because it's the only traditional Fourth of July parade in Columbus on the holiday, and it's a source of pride for the Northland area.

"We just want to do some things to make people proud to be in the Northland Area," he said.

Parade entry applications are available online at www.myncc .org.

Those with questions or who are interested in volunteering on the day of the parade or in sponsoring a float can e-mail northlandparade2009@myncc.org.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com