Lewis Center's annual Independence Day parade will be rerouted to avoid a major construction project on South Old State Road.
In years past, marchers have stepped off from Oak Creek Shopping Center before heading north on Old State Road, east on Orange Road and wrapping up at Olentangy Orange High School.
This year, the parade will begin at 10 a.m. July 4 at the high school and head east before turning south on Walker Wood Boulevard, concluding at Walker Wood Park.
Ryan Rivers, spokesman for Celebrate Community, the group overseeing the parade with Adventure Church, said via email that construction on Old State Road led the groups to scuttle the former route. Delaware County's multimillion-dollar project to widen the well-traveled road is underway and could last through the end of 2018.
Rivers said he hopes the change makes things easier for parade fans.
"Parade attendance has grown every year and we expect more than 10,000 people to line the 1-mile route this year," he said. "The changes should provide improvements from the past.
"Walker Wood Boulevard provides a wider route with sidewalks that are more accommodating for attendees."
Rivers said he thinks closing fewer streets will help motorists get around in the township during the parade, which is sponsored by the Goddard School.
Orange Township Administrator Lee Bodnar said he agrees it would not be feasible to keep the old route in place this year.
"It would just make for a total mess," he said.
Bodnar said volunteers will reach out to residents who live along the new route in the days leading up to the parade to let them know about the change.
"The last thing anybody wants is for someone to be stuck in their driveway and not be able to get to where they want to be," he said.
Rivers said deputies with the Delaware County Sheriff's Office will be on hand to monitor the parade and assist anyone who needs to exit nearby residences in an emergency.
Volunteers from Adventure Church will manage the parade on the day of the event.
"Part of our vision at Adventure Church is to engage and be a part of the local community," church Operations Director Jacky Wirth said via email. "The 4th of July parade is a great way for us to not only engage with the community, but to give back by helping facilitate this event."
Rivers said he is not sure if the parade will return to its original route after the work on Old State Road is completed. He said he views the new route as a "great alternative."
The work on Old State Road also is expected to shift the route of the Freedom 4 Miler, an annual race held July 4 in the township.