This year's Fourth of July parade in Upper Arlington will be backed by the star power of a homegrown Olympic silver medalist.
Presiding over this year's parade will be Abby Johnston, an Upper Arlington native and silver medalist on the U.S. 2012 Olympic diving team.
"That was one of the easiest decisions we'll make all year," Upper Arlington Civic Association July Fourth co-chairman Mark Berens said of Johnston's selection. "Literally, last summer when she won the silver medal, we were getting suggestions that she should be grand marshal.
"She's really inspiring and she's lived in Upper Arlington her whole life. This really will be the community's chance to proudly say, 'Here's one of our own' and honor her accomplishments."
Although naming Johnston grand marshal required little contemplation, Berens said there was much debate and thought behind this year's parade theme: "Boulevard of the Stars."
"While the theme celebrates Northwest Boulevard as the star-lined route for the parade each year, it also provides a great deal of creative flexibility for this year's float builders in designing their floats," said Lisa Berens, co-chairwoman of the UACA's 2013 July Fourth festivities. "Float-builders will surely consider a variety of patriotic, Hollywood and parade route related motifs for their individual floats."
Mark Berens said the theme was selected from numerous proposals.
"There's never a lack of ideas," he said. "Narrowing it down usually is the challenge.
"It is something that's relevant because it has a patriotic element, yet it's got a local connection."
Berens said he hopes the theme will stir a wealth of parade participation, particularly among competing neighborhoods.
Those interesting in registering a float in the 2013 parade should do so by June 15.
Rules and guidelines, including prohibitions against politically and commercially oriented material, are available online at www.uaca.org.