A Fouse Elementary School fifth-grader created this year's Fourth of July theme, "Let Freedom Ring in 2014."
Each year, the Rotary Club of Westerville hosts a contest for local schoolchildren in kindergarten through fifth grade to suggest a theme for the holiday celebration. The club's committee then selects the winning suggestion.
"It's something that really gets them excited and geared up for the Fourth of July," said Whitney Smith, Rotary Club Fourth of July Committee co-chairwoman.
Smith said the club typically receives 400 to 600 entries each year.
Though she has submitted suggestions since she was in kindergarten, this year Emma Kyre picked the winning theme with "Let Freedom Ring in 2014."
Kyre, daughter of Jamie and Erik Kyre, said she came up with the idea on her own. Her mother, Jamie, said her kids have always participated in the Rotary Club contest and have come up with their own theme without parental assistance.
"I was just thinking of ideas of what would go together, and that is what I had," Emma said.
Emma was called to the principal's office at Fouse when she received the news.
"I thought I was in trouble at first when I (was called) to the principal's office," she said. "I was surprised that was it."
Mrs. Kyre said she, too, was pleasantly surprised that her daughter's theme suggestion was selected.
"Her principal calls me to tell me," she said. "I was sort of shocked. She was really happy and excited."
Mrs. Kyre grew up in Westerville and has attended the city's Independence Day celebrations, staged by the Rotary Club, since childhood. Now she takes her family and participates.
For picking this year's theme, Emma won a $100 U.S. savings bond and will ride in a place of honor on the Rotary Club float in the parade. She plans to bring along two friends.
Emma is a parade veteran. She has walked in it with her Girl Scout troop and danced through it with fellow students at Generations Performing Arts Studio in Uptown. But this year, she is looking forward to riding the float with her friends.
"She is really excited to ride the float," Mrs. Kyre said.
Emma said she is saving her $100 award for American Girl dolls.
Westerville's Fourth of July celebrations will start with a 5K run-walk in the morning, the State Street parade beginning at 1 p.m. and the fireworks show in the evening launched from Alum Creek Park South. The festivities all are set for Friday, July 4.
For more information, to register for the run or to sign up to march in the parade, visit westervillerotary.com.