Excitement is building for the Upper Arlington Civic Association's annual Fourth of July celebration.

Excitement is building for the Upper Arlington Civic Association's annual Fourth of July celebration.

The theme this year is "UA Celebrates America's Idols." The parade along Northwest Boulevard begins at 9 a.m., followed by the Party in the Park at Northam Park at 5:30 p.m. The middle of the day will be taken up with individual family gatherings and class reunions.

Tim Huffman, proprietor of Huffman's Market, is grand marshal of this year's parade.

"We picked him because he's been involved in the community for so many years as a store owner and he contributes to local organizations and fundraisers," said Randy Mueller, who is general co-chair of the Fourth of July activities along with his wife, Kathy. "It fits in well with our theme, because he is a true community builder for an American town."

Huffman said he's looking forward to serving as parade grand marshal, since the Fourth of July celebration is one of the biggest events in Upper Arlington.

"Next to Christmas, it is the biggest holiday of the year. It's kind of like Thanksgiving. It's the whole community celebrating," Huffman said. "Being that it's on Friday this year, people will start getting ready the week before. If you drive through Arlington, at least the Saturday before, you'll see chairs lined up along Northwest Boulevard."

Huffman's Market will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Fourth so that customers can buy supplies for the Party in the Park and other festivities.

During the parade, "I'm usually at the corner of Northwest Boulevard and Northam with my family, passing out popsicles and hotdogs," Huffman said. "At least this year will give my legs a rest."

While Huffman and his wife, Glenda, wave to the crowds along the parade route, the rest of the Huffman family will be on hand to pass out concessions at the usual spot.

The Fourth of July kicks off each year with the Wake-up Call at 7:30 a.m. that residents can order from the civic association.

"You can pay for yourself or your neighbor," Mueller said. "It's all in good fun."

After the parade, the Party in the Park will begin at 5:30 p.m. Conspiracy will provide live entertainment. There will also be an area for teens during the Party in the Park, with a local teen band playing until 8:30 p.m. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at 9:50 p.m.

The civic association sells tables of 10 for the Party in the Park and participants are encouraged to bring refreshments. New this year, there will also be several vendors selling food.

"We'll have some vendors, but it will be limited," Mueller said. "It's not to make money, but just to have some choices to bring people out."

Mueller emphasized that although the city of Upper Arlington contributes safety services, the civic association covers all of the costs for the Fourth of July celebration.

"We try and get that message out," he said. "We're trying to make the connection that when you're asked for $25 (during the civic association's annual fundraising), that money goes somewhere."

The Fourth of July celebration is a long-held tradition that brings generations of Upper Arlington residents back to the community.

"Everybody comes out. They party hard, they're very patriotic, they've got their red white and blue out," Huffman said. "It is probably the grandest city in America to do this."

For more information about the Fourth of July celebration, visit www.uaca.org.

cbournea@thisweeknews.com