"UA There's No Place Like Home," the theme of this year's Fourth of July celebration, is fitting, since the event reunites friends and neighbors and draws Upper Arlington natives from near and far.

"UA There's No Place Like Home," the theme of this year's Fourth of July celebration, is fitting, since the event reunites friends and neighbors and draws Upper Arlington natives from near and far.

Presented by the Upper Arlington Civic Association, the celebration will kick off with the parade along Northwest Boulevard at 9 a.m. Friday. Serving as grand marshal will be restaurateur Cameron Mitchell.

An Upper Arlington native, Mitchell said he has fond memories of Fourth of July celebrations when he was growing up.

Mitchell said he remembers "decorating my bike as a kid and riding in the parade and now here I am grand marshal."

Mitchell said he was honored when the UACA invited him to serve as grand marshal.

"I was most excited to be grand marshal for my three children and my wife, Molly. I'm excited to have my family with me and be a part of the parade," he said. "It's much less about me and more about my family and the community."

The Fourth of July celebration has long been a community bonding event. Sandy Saravalli, a longtime resident of the Westwood Acres subdivision, said float-building has been a source of neighborhood pride for the past 50 years.

"It unites the community, but when we moved in here to Westwood Acres, it was much smaller than what it is now. We were from out of state and everybody was looking for a friend," Saravalli said. "We had some exceptionally talented people and they would be like, 'We're going to do the float this way.' We thought they were doing a good job."

Scott Tjaden and his wife, Rachel, and their three children have been helping out with the Westwood Acres float for the past nine years.

"What we focus on that's a little bit different from all the other neighborhoods (that build floats) is children," Tjaden said. "Last year we had 45 kids on our float. It's going to be the same or a little bit less this year."

Working on the float brings together neighbors who otherwise might not have an opportunity to interact, Tjaden said.

"You get to meet new neighbors, and the rest of the summer when you're out, everybody says hi to everybody and you build those relationships," he said.

Neighbors work together on the float for about a month leading up to the parade. All the hard work is worth it, Tjaden said.

"For us, it's about keeping the tradition going," he said, "and it's about the kids."

Following the parade in the morning, the evening's festivities will include the Party in the Park in Northam Park. R&B band Conspiracy will provide live entertainment, culminating with fireworks at nightfall.

For more information, visit www.uaca.org.