One year before Upper Arlington celebrates its 100th birthday, organizers of the annual Independence Day celebration hope this year's festivities spur memories and appreciation for the community and its traditions.

The Upper Arlington Civic Association, which organizes the July Fourth parade and Party in the Park, is gearing up for the event and recently announced this year's theme -- "Reflections: Celebrating 99 Years of Community Spirit and Tradition."

"We have a big year coming up next year when we'll be celebrating the centennial," said Julie Millisor. "We thought it was appropriate to look back at what we've done, what this community has done over the last 100 years. We thought we'd especially look back at how this community comes together for the Fourth of July and all of these community events we have."

Millisor and her husband, Tyler, are the UACA's Fourth of July general chairmen this year.

The UACA named four members of the UA Spirit of '76 as this year's grand marshals.

Those who have attended the UACA's July Fourth parade will recognize the UA Spirit of '76 as the group of men who each year don Colonial period clothing and re-enact Archibald Willard's painting, "The Spirit of '76," which depicts musicians marching on a Revolutionary War battlefield.

The UA Spirit of '76 has appeared in the local July Fourth parade for 82 years.

Since 1935, those portraying the musicians in the painting have passed their roles down to family members. This year, a group of fourth-generation UA Spirit of '76 members, including members of the Long, Millisor and Murphy families, will march in the parade.

Third-generation members Jim and Bob Long and Link and Mark Murphy will serve as the parade's grand marshals.

"It's a special thing," Millisor said about the UA Spirit of '76 and its role in the parade. "Every year, we have that group of marchers.

"It's amazing how these roles have stayed within these families so long, and it's just such a great tradition."

Other parade traditions also are marching on this year.

Millisor noted that the time-honored "wake-up calls," in which UACA volunteers pay homage to Paul Revere's famous ride and cruise the city with bullhorns to deliver customized calls to rise and join the day's festivities, will return.

Those wishing to order a wake-up call can do so beginning June 1 via the UACA's website at www.uaca.org.

Likewise, table reservations for the Party in the Park open June 1 and can be secured through the UACA's website.

And while the UACA and community wait for July Fourth to arrive, organizers are hopeful that a growing number of neighborhoods and people will build floats to be part of this year's parade.

"We still really are encouraging neighborhoods, church groups and people to get together and show that spirit and put a float in the parade," Millisor said. "Let's just go out and have some fun for the community's 99th year.

"We love those neighborhood floats. They're the heart and soul of the parade."

Anyone interested in entering a float in the parade can get information about float-building and registration from UACA float chairs Jim and Anne Stair, who can be contacted at uacajuly4floats@gmail.com.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate