March 20, 2018, will mark the official 100th anniversary of the founding of Upper Arlington.
From wide-open farmland with pastures and cornfields to a leafy community of unique homes and caring neighbors, our community has come a long way in its first century.
To celebrate this milestone, our volunteer Centennial Steering Committee and city staff have planned an exciting schedule of events, something for every month of the year.
We have already distributed the special edition Centennial magazine, tapped the kegs of our special centennial beer, raised centennial banners on streetlight poles along key streets and commissioned the artwork for our soon-to-be unveiled History Walk and our Centennial Plaza at Northam Park.
The Tremont Library will host a family-activity event on Tuesday, March 20, complete with scavenger hunt, period music and book displays, commemorative remarks, refreshments and prizes.
And there is a lot more to come: special Fourth of July festivities, centennial-themed floats, tree-plantings, a special commemorative design for the Kingsdale water tower, the "Tour de UA" family bike ride, and events at parks throughout the community.
Truly, this will be a year to remember!
But it will also be a year to pause and reflect. What makes UA such a special place? Central Ohio is blessed, after all, with many other desirable communities with good schools and fine houses.
What is unique about our community? Why are people willing to pay such high prices to live in UA?
And why is it so important that we celebrate this milestone in our history? Compared to Franklinton (founded on the west bank of the Scioto in 1797) or Worthington (settled by pioneers from New England in 1803) our history may not be all that exciting.
I believe the answers can be found in our shared values.
Celebrating the centennial is not just about having a big party, although parties are great and we should never miss a chance to come together as a community celebrating something positive.
I believe that all of us, as members of this wonderful community, must look for opportunities to repeat and reinforce the important values we share by choosing to live in UA. Values like the importance of education, civility, neighborliness, community involvement, physical safety and strength of family. Values like maintaining our public spaces as well as our individual properties and respecting the views of others.
Celebrating Upper Arlington's first 100 years is the perfect time to step back and reflect on the reasons we love this community. If we don't consciously reinforce our shared values, if we take them for granted, if we fail to express them clearly and repeat them often, they will begin to erode. Eventually, they will be forgotten or lost in the noise of fake news and contentious politics.
So let's take this perfect opportunity to recommit ourselves to the reasons we have chosen this community and shaped it as we have. Let's celebrate the first 100 years of UA loudly and proudly and launch our community into its second century with confidence that the future will be as great for those who follow us as the past has been for those who came before us.
Rich Simpson is chairman of the Upper Arlington Centennial Steering Committee.