Upper Arlington News

UACA will celebrate July 4 in traditional style

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As most residents and those familiar with the community know, Independence Day is not simply another day in Upper Arlington.

Since 1933, the year after it was founded, the Upper Arlington Civic Association has put on a July Fourth celebration to rival that of almost any community.

Past and present residents line the annual parade route, host reunion parties and revel in the celebration.

The tradition is expected to continue this year, starting with the citywide "Parade Wake-Up Calls" at 7 a.m. July 4. That's when UACA volunteers hustle throughout neighborhoods to noisily announce that the celebration has begun.

"A team of volunteers heads out and they divide the community into manageable sections and they call out to the community and tell everybody to 'Wake up!' " said Kris Ferraro. She and her husband, Mike, are this year's UACA July Fourth general chairmen.

"Through the website (www.uaca.org), you also can purchase for $10 a personalized wake-up and those same volunteers will call out those folks by names," she said.

From there, the focus turns to the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and Zollinger Road for the annual parade, which will kick off at 9 a.m.

This year's theme is "YoU Are A Grand Old Flag," and the parade itself will be presided over by Bill Richards, a U.S. Navy veteran and retired Upper Arlington teacher. Along with his wife, Bobbi, Richards also is director emeritus of Honor Flight Columbus, a program that annually flies veterans to Washington, D.C., at no cost so they can visit war memorials and share their stories with younger generations.

"We have what I would call five neighborhood floats and one school that's doing a float," said Jennifer Jupp, who, with her husband, Larry, heads up this year's UACA July 4 committee. "Overall, we probably have 90 to 100 entries, not counting cars or vans.

"It's going great and we're really excited."

Although she's looking forward to the parade, Mrs. Jupp said she's also eager for the unofficial July 4 pre-party, where parade committee members get a sneak peak at the floats before celebrating months of preparation at an annual dinner hosted by the general chairmen of this year's celebration.

"We get to see the floats in advance and hear the stories behind them," Jupp said. "The kids that are involved are always really excited.

"We also have a get-together for anyone who has chaired a July Fourth committee. It's kind of a little celebration and annual tradition, and it's really neat to hear from people who did this 40 years ago and how things have evolved."

On July 4, Jupp said she could think of just one thing that could enhance the traditional activities: "I think it would be really neat if, on the Fourth, every home in Upper Arlington would have a U.S. flag hanging outside," she said.

Following the conclusion of the July 4 parade, groups typically break off into their own celebrations before reconvening in Northam Park at 5 p.m. for the annual Party in the Park.

That event will feature musical performances by Shucking Bubba Deluxe beginning at 5:30 p.m., as well as food and drink vendors. This year, Schmidt's Sausage Haus and its Bahama Mama, which was named the official food of Columbus in a Columbus Dispatch survey, will join the party.

While visitors are permitted to bring food and their own seating -- or lounging -- accommodations, Ferraro noted there still are tables available for reservation in the park.

The tables seat up to 10 and are available for $125 for UACA members and $150 for nonmembers. They can be reserved at www.uaca.org.

A table reservation also secures parking passes.

Ferraro said those wishing to park in the Northam Park lot should arrive early, but due to limited spaces, they may have to park on nearby residential streets.

Once the Party in the Park kicks into swing, awards for best parade floats will be distributed and the Upper Arlington Alumni Association will recognize its three alumni award winners.

"We'll also be recognizing the Upper Arlington (High School) boys basketball team for their successful run through the state tournament," Ferraro said.

UACA-sponsored fireworks are expected to begin around 10 p.m.

"I wouldn't be any place else on the Fourth of July," Ferraro said. "It's such a great tradition.

"It's a great place to be around family and friends. With all the reunion events, we reconnect with old friends and it's a great celebration to honor the country and the community."

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