A parade, heirlooms and instilling the meaning of Independence Day are all part of tradition for Gahanna residents.

Chuck Rees, chairman of the Gahanna Lions Club July Fourth parade, said the event was such a success that the parking lot at Gahanna Lincoln High School might have to be added for the parade lineup next year.

"I think I'll have to start putting some of the floats at B building," he said. "We're running out of spots to put people (at Clark Hall's lot) and that's a good sign."

This year's parade, lasting about 75 minutes, was bigger than last year's, Rees said.

"We had great representation from the high school with the bowling champs, girls track, the hockey team and the band," he said. "I'm proud of all these people to endure the heat. It was remarkable they came through. I have nothing but good words for them."

In his 35 years being involved with the parade, Rees said, this year's event was one of the hottest.

Though squirt guns are usually discouraged, he said, they were allowed due to the extreme heat.

"I think we had a few people who had to have assistance," he said.

He said Gahanna's Eastside Community Church took first place in the float category for the second consecutive year.

"It was a beautiful float," he said. "They were there at 7 a.m. working on it. They put a lot of effort into that."

It wasn't a float but a golf cart that residents from Gahanna's Royal Manor neighborhood decked out with patriotic accessories.

Jason Ruark said his late grandfather built everything on the cart and rode it in Maysville, Kentucky, parades.

"It was called a Club Car and he changed it to call it Woody," he said. "He made the (wooden) arm rails."

Jason and his wife, Colleen, sported patriotic outfits for the occasion.

Makeshift rockets were placed in the back of the cart, which even has a built-in stereo system, he said.

When running a smoke machine near the rockets, it appears the vehicle is preparing to blast off.

Rick Stelzer, a 1975 Gahanna Lincoln High School graduate, rode a customized recumbent tricycle in the parade.

"I was in the parade all through high school," he said. "I'm the trike mechanic at Bicycle One in Gahanna."

Holly Thatcher said she was in Gahanna's parade growing up and now she wants her children to experience it.

Twins Grady and Kali Thatcher, 9, and brother Aidan, 4, wore patriotic sunglasses and represented the Gahanna Soccer Association in the parade.

Debbi Hartzell, who has lived in Gahanna since 1977, attended the parade with her daughter, Melissa Olendese, a 2002 Gahanna Lincoln graduate, and her granddaughters, Penny, 7, and Vesper, 3.

The girls wore red, white and blue outfits Hartzell had made for her daughter that were then passed on to her granddaughters.

During the July 2 Gahanna City Council meeting, city leaders shared Independence Day traditions they have created with their children.

Councilman Jamie Leeseberg said he makes sure his children understand the words of "The Star-Spangled Banner," the national anthem, on July 4.

Councilman Stephen Renner said his family's tradition is to read the U.S. Constitution and the Federalist Papers, a series of essays urging the citizens of New York to ratify the Constitution.

"Then you have a deeper appreciation for what this is all about," Renner said.

Gahanna's July Fourth celebration also featured a Community Day at Creekside Park with music and activities from the Gahanna Parks and Recreation Department, topped off with fireworks at the Gahanna Municipal Golf Course.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla