With 115 entries and spectators 10 people deep along city streets, the Gahanna Lions Club Fourth of July parade is being touted as the city's biggest in history.

Chuck Rees, parade chairman and Lions Club president, said in terms of spectators and participants, the 2017 Independence Day parade is the biggest in his 52 years of living in Gahanna and his roughly 15 years of leading the event.

He said last year's parade had about 70 entries.

Rees said he heard various guesses about this year's attendance, and he estimates it at least 20,000 people.

Immediately following the hour-long parade, Gahanna Mayor Tom Kneeland already was thinking about plans to make next year's parade better.

He passed out 500 inaugural Independence Day Mayor's Award buttons to residents who showed their patriotic spirit.

He had encouraged residents, especially youths, to get involved by decorating their bicycles, wagons and four-legged friends, and helping to build floats.

Members of East Side Community Church demonstrated their spirit by creating a huge bald eagle that won the top trophy for floats.

"That was the most beautiful thing I've seen," Rees said. "They were behind Clark Hall at 7 a.m. reassembling it. They did a fine job."

Ron O'Leary engineered the eagle that featured moving wings.

"My company, Commercial Vehicle Group, donated scrap metal," he said. "We used PVC and apex to form the body of the eagle. A lady in the church sewed the wings."

He said a week's worth of work went into the project.

Because a bolt snapped off a motor that operated the eagle's wings, O'Leary had to fill in to make the wings move by doing leg presses.

Gahanna's Ken Garrett said he and his son, Cole, entered a motorized go-cart they made three years ago.

"It was a father-son project," he said. "We had some old bikes that we repurposed and made something that didn't have instructions."

They sketched out their own ideas, and the Middle School West eighth-grader's ultimate goal was to put a motor in it.

"It goes 18 miles an hour," Ken Garrett said. "We spent about 50 hours on it originally. He (Cole) learned how to use some tools."

Doug Dachenbach of Blacklick, president of the Tickin T's of Central Ohio, steered his 1924 Model T Ford in the parade.

Lauren Elder said this marked the first July Fourth parade in Gahanna for her children, Tommy, 5, and Lainey, 3, who enjoyed waving at parade participants and collecting candy.

Rees said children had trick-or-treat bags half full.

"My granddaughter is with the Elite soccer club. They had four different age groups in the parade and they said they would do it again," he said. "They loved handing out candy. I had 3,500 pieces of candy and they didn't make it through the parade route."

Rees said the parade was made possible with the assistance of 15 members of the Lions Club, golf carts donated by the city and the police helping with safety matters.

"The biggest thing was getting Joe Spanovich, the first mayor of Gahanna, as grand marshal," he said. "That's the least we could do for him. I hope I look that good at (age 88)."

Spanovich first ran as a Gahanna village councilman in 1958, a post he held until 1985.

He served as the first mayor of Gahanna, when Gahanna passed the significant milestone of turning from a village to a city in 1970.

"We decided all the kids with bicycles would be awarded ribbons for participation. The only thing I had problems with was 18 antique fire trucks showed up, and I was told six would come," Rees said.

He said he's proud of everyone who was involved in this year's parade, and he hopes everyone enjoyed it.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla