After months of planning, those working behind the scenes to present the Upper Arlington Civic Association's July 4 parade are almost ready to celebrate.
If tradition holds -- and there's every indication it will -- scores of Upper Arlington residents, both current and past, will turn out for the annual community Independence Day celebration.
Beginning at 9 a.m. July 4, at least 60 parade entrants are expected to roll out from their staging point at the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and Zollinger Road for the UACA's 2013 July 4 parade.
The parade will head south down Northwest Boulevard, which annually is painted with stars by UACA members to mark the route and celebrate Independence Day. This year's grand marshal is Abby Johnston, silver medalist for the U.S. diving team at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Parade floats and other entrants are expected to follow this year's theme, "Boulevard of Stars."
While it's a single day of celebration, preparations for the parade are nearly yearlong. Officially, the work kicks off in January, and both the parade committee chairmen, Mike and Kris Ferraro, and float chairmen, Larry and Jennifer Jupp, have been working since that time to bring this year's event together.
"We've been here since 2006, and I grew up here," Kris Ferraro said. "Having grown up here, there's just nothing better than being here for the Fourth of July.
"I've always told my husband there is no other place I'd be ... and by getting involved, it's really been great for us to give back to the community in this unique way."
There is a bit of a hierarchy to the management of the UACA's July Fourth celebration, including involvement in the parade.
First, a couple must be selected to serve a year as float judges.
In their second year, they graduate to float chairmen.
By the third year, the couple is promoted to parade chairmen, and they go on in their fourth year to oversee the party in Northam Park and the fireworks display.
"My husband and I were just looking for a way to get involved in the community," float co-chairwoman Jennifer Jupp said. "We really enjoy living in Upper Arlington and wanted a way to give back to the community."
Over the course of the past year, Jupp and her husband worked with neighborhoods, community groups and service organizations that want to enter a float in this year's parade. They also hosted a float workshop in April to lay out ground rules and go over logistical issues.
"There are things to think about, like overhead power lines and traffic signals," Jupp said. "But we invite the 'experts' -- the people who've worked with the parade in the past -- and those people really are essential because they can speak from years and years of experience.
"I give all the credit to the people who've served on the committee before us," she said. "This is such a well-oiled machine. We have binders from years and years and years of past committee members and it's really all spelled out for us."
As parade chairmen, the Ferraros instill the rules -- most notably the restrictions against commercially and politically oriented floats.
They also set the order of the parade lineup and manage the pre-parade staging.
After that, they will get a taste of their duties in next year's celebration when they assist with the party in the park.
"It's not like a full-time job, but there's a lot going on each day in preparation," Kris Ferraro said. "It's a lot of details.
"It's work, but we enjoy it," she said. "I love the entertainment aspects of the parade, the costumes, the dancing and the music. And after putting the parade to bed, which will feel very nice, my husband and I really enjoy that party in the park. It will be really nice to enjoy that evening with our friends and neighbors."
Community pride swells throughout the parade, and even before, Jupp said. She noted she's particularly looking forward to the "sneak peek" she and her husband will get of the floats.
"We meet with people in the neighborhoods and we hear a lot of great stories about what might have contributed to their designs of those floats," Jupp said. "We get to hear those stories, and that's become one of my favorite things, those kind of behind-the-scenes insights."