Delaware resident Genti Koci was born on the Fourth of July -- in the European nation of Albania.

"Sometimes I tell people I moved to the U.S. because they do a nice parade for my birthday," he joked.

For the second consecutive year, the Delaware July Fourth parade will be organized by two local residents, aided by three fundraisers Koci held as proprietor of Opa Grill and Tavern, 18 S. Sandusky St.

Parade organizer Erik Boeriu said he heard through the grapevine last year that the city's parade would be canceled.

"I called the mayor to verify that. ... I told her I would take over," he said. "Corie (Thompson) volunteered to help me out. That's how we started. ... I couldn't imagine Delaware not having one. I've lived here all my life. There's always been a parade."

Both last year and this year, Boeriu and Thompson encouraged early registration for parade entries to gauge how many the event would have.

Last year, Boeriu said, "we were kind of worried it would be a small show" because only about 30 entries signed up in advance.

But with registrations July 4, when the parade formed at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, the number of entries jumped to more than 100.

"It actually turned out pretty awesome," he said.

The parade will form from noon to 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 4, at the fairgrounds. There is no entry fee, but participants are asked to bring donations for People in Need.

Units and marchers will step off at 3 p.m. along the parade's traditional route, moving east on Pennsylvania Avenue, then turning south on Sandusky Street, and finally heading east at Hardware Exchange, ending at Ohio Wesleyan University's Selby Field on Henry Street.

Parade entrants will be asked to sign liability waivers.

Insurance for the parade costs about $900, with other costs -- including lunch and T-shirts for parade participants -- bringing the total to about $1,200.

Most of that cost is covered by three fundraisers held on different months at Opa, during which Koci donated 25 percent of the restaurant's proceeds.

Boeriu's employer, Del-aware Marine, also contributed.

"I'm more than happy to help with the parade every year," said Koci, who immigrated from Turkey in 2007 and moved to Delaware in 2010.

"We appreciate this town. We live here," he said. "I don't see a reason not to have a parade. ... Let's do this together. ... Let me help you. ... It's doable."

As of June 27, Thompson said, 50 entries had registered for the parade.

It's a common misconception that the city government stages and pays for the parade, she said.

"It doesn't, which is completely fine," she said.

City spokesman Lee Yoakum said the local Farm Bureau coordinated the parade for about five years, ending in 2016. Before that, the Delaware County Board of Realtors organized it.

City workers and police assist the parade by blocking off the streets and controlling traffic, Thompson said.

Last year's parade went smoothly, Thompson said. One rule is that for safety reasons, candy cannot be thrown to parade viewers from passing vehicles.

"We don't want adults or kids in the street with moving vehicles," she said.

Instead, those marching in the parade can hand out candy.

She said she and Boeriu reach out and encourage military units and veterans to participate, but some units and groups are unavailable or otherwise decline.

"We can't make anybody be in the parade," she said.

The Delaware Hayes High School marching band will participate.

Boeriu and Thompson said this year's parade is expected to have a few color guards as well, with veterans and businesses also represented.

Thompson is a support administrator for the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and said she wanted to see a wider range of people get involved in the parade.

"Several providers we work with" were in last year's parade, she said, such as Alpha Group of Delaware and Aqua Tots swimming school.

Boeriu said about 15 other resident volunteers help out on parade day, a number of them his friends.

Also lending a hand is Thompson's husband, Ben, and their son, Jack Summers, 10, whom they keep busy with errands.

The parade effort is organized as Citizens for the 4th, a nonprofit group.

The online entry form is at tinyurl.com/delawareparade.

Also July 4, Central Ohio Symphony's annual concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Phillips Glen, Ohio Wesleyan University. Fireworks are scheduled for 10 p.m. and can be viewed from the Ohio Wesleyan athletic fields and parking lots along Henry Street, between Wilmer Street and Olentangy Avenue.

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