After the smoke cleared from this year's fireworks display, the sleep-deprived organizers behind Upper Arlington's July Fourth celebration couldn't have been happier with the success of the trademark event.
A celebration of the nation, its freedoms and the people who have served and stood up to gain and protect those privileges is generally how many Americans view Independence Day.
In Upper Arlington, events such as the annual Upper Arlington Civic Association-sponsored parade and Party in the Park bring out the youngest and oldest residents, and almost all of those in between, drawing scores of people who moved away back to see friends and relatives.
"All of it feels like community because it is," said Brent Theaker, who, along with his wife, Angie, served as the UACA's 2018 general chairmen overseeing this year's celebration.
"It's run by the community and the city is so supportive," Brent Theaker said. "The teamwork builds a sense of community."
Despite scorching temperatures well into the 90s, Northwest Boulevard was lined with parade spectators and neighborhood parties ensued throughout the city.
Angie Theaker noted there were 82 entries in this year's parade, in addition to scads of groups representing various organizations and branches of the military.
She joked that Mother Nature even tried to join the community's centennial celebration by pushing heat indexes up to 100 degrees, and she marveled at the fact that no one was hurt during the parade and that more than 60 former UACA July Fourth chairmen -- including some as old as 91 -- took part as the grand marshals of this year's parade.
"(Past chairs) are truly the ones that built the celebration in Upper Arlington into what it is today," she said. "This is truly a giant community celebration where everybody's having a good time and being kind to one another.
"It's an honor of our lifetime to have been able to contribute to this."
During the Party in the Park, held several hours after the parade in its traditional location in Northam Park, UACA float judging chairmen Sam and Sandi Porter announced the 2018 float award-winners.
"The Fourth of July was an incredible day," Sam Porter said. "Northwest Boulevard was a sight to see and UA put its best foot forward and rolled out the 'gold' carpet for a showstopper of a day.
"This was the first year for the People's Choice, Founders and Golden Bear awards and the UA Cup, which went to the winner of best of parade. The UA Cup is UA's very own Stanley Cup that will be passed down to the winner each year for the Best of Parade."
Porter noted the UA Cup created a "new level of excitement and friendly competition and the People's Choice Award generated more than 1,000 online votes between 3 and 7 p.m. July 4."
The Theakers said the award announcements were just part of an overall rousing Party in the Park that this year featured the unveiling of the UA Centennial Commission's new History Walk and sculpted bronze bears by artist Alana Hamwi.
"The Legacy Project unveilings were just awesome," Angie Theaker said. "We did a live video feed to the stage of the Centennial Plaza where the bears were revealed."
The Theakers credited city workers, including those from the Upper Arlington police and fire divisions for keeping everyone safe throughout the day.
Angie Theaker was particularly proud of the fireworks display for several reasons. She and her husband put forth painstaking efforts to compile a soundtrack to the show that seemed to be well-received. The duo intentionally used birthday songs to celebrate the nation's independence, as well as Upper Arlington's centennial, and included songs from each of the 10 decades that have passed since Upper Arlington was founded, along with tunes that incorporated golden, yellow and black into the lyrics.
"Brent and I had so much fun doing the soundtrack," she said. "We started in January and probably spent 40 hours working on it."
As for the display itself, the couple said fireworks that flashed "UA 100" and those that seemingly trickled down sparks just above spectators heads added special flair to the celebration.
"The UACA gave us a bigger budget this year," Angie said. "They wanted to make the centennial great and had been saving up for a few years."
While the celebration carried over into the early morning of July 5, the Theakers and fellow UACA volunteers worked to clean up Northam Park and spent their waking hours the next two days reflecting on what they said was a special event for them personally, and one they hope the community will remember.
They also sought to thank those who took part in the celebration and everyone who helped pull it together for all of their spirit and work.
"We want to give a thank you to each individual person who contributed," Angie Theaker said. "There were so many people.
"All this, collectively, made it become a success. It was really awe-inspiring to see."