An Upper Arlington Girl Scout hopes to capture the essence of arguably the community's defining event through a project that will help her win a Gold Award.

Since she was a little girl, Jane Pultz has been enamored with the Girl Scouts and the Fourth of July celebration in Upper Arlington.

The 17-year-old junior at Upper Arlington High School and member of Girl Scout Troop 1782 also has developed a penchant for creating narratives and re-creations.

So as she began plans roughly a year ago to pursue the Girl Scout Gold Award, the organization's highest achievement, she could think of no better project than to create a documentary about what Independence Day means to the city.

"I'm a storyteller," Pultz said. "I do theater at the high school, and I'm in creative writing. I love storytelling."

Over the past year, Pultz has talked to several people during about 50 hours of interviews to help tell the story behind the Fourth of July in Upper Arlington.

So far, she's talked to officials from the Upper Arlington Civic Association who organize the annual July 4 parade and Party in the Park, as well as a member of "The Spirit of '76," a parade tradition that's seen four generations of the Murphy, Millisor and Long families re-create Archibald Willard's painting depicting musicians marching on a Revolutionary War battlefield.

"I was excited to hear that Jane was doing a documentary on the Fourth of July celebration," said Peter Walsh, a UACA past president. "As an organization, our history is mostly passed along orally from one group of directors to the next.

"Our directors turn over every two years, so we often don't even know how long an event has been going on. Jane's work will be a valuable addition to our organization. It comes at a time when the current UACA president, Steve Blunk, and vice president, Mark Abell, are working to piece together a more comprehensive history of the UACA."

Pultz is trying to shed more light on why July 4 holds such a special place in Upper Arlington by getting behind-the-scenes footage of floats being built in preparation for the parade. She also has obtained accounts from residents who revel in the daylong party and reunions with family, friends and old classmates.

"I want to show the spirit of it, what it means, the different perspectives on the Fourth of July in Upper Arlington and how it's changed," Pultz said. "I talked to Dawne McGuire (a former general chairwoman for the UACA July Fourth celebration), and she said it's her husband's favorite day of the year -- even better than Christmas.

"I think my goal is trying to portray how the Fourth of July is very representative of the community as a whole. There are so many diverse things that go into it and so many individual stories, but the Fourth of July is a common thing in Upper Arlington. Everyone does come back for it, and that one day is the embodiment of all that effort and all of those people."

Pultz hopes to complete a 10- to 20-minute film in time to screen it before this year's Independence Day celebration.

She hopes the project can help her earn her Gold Award, but she also hopes it will be something that can be used as an educational tool for younger students and possibly be included in the Upper Arlington Public Library's digital archives.

UAPL digital archives coordinator Sara Klein has helped Pultz research her project, and she's hopeful the finished product can help showcase the community's celebration for years to come.

"It's been such a pleasure to work with Jane and watch her project evolve," Klein said. "At the library, we're always thrilled whenever we can connect students with historical resources.

"Jane is so bright and enthusiastic. She first contacted me about this project when she was exploring what types of digital images and other materials related to Upper Arlington's history might be available.

"As she continued her research, she decided to focus on our community's most iconic celebration, the Fourth of July," Klein added. "I'm really looking forward to seeing her finished documentary and making it available to the community online as part of the UA archives (uaarchives.org)."

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