Fall brings crisp mornings with misty low-hanging fog and cool dew on the grass.

That's my cue to tidy up the yard and prepare for the branches to let go of their leaves, blanketing the lawn with fantastic yellow, red and orange foliage. Though it is a beautiful and welcome sight (I love fall), it also means it's time to get out the rake and attempt to keep up with the tumble.

Fortunately, I think we're still a few weeks away from having a pile of leaves big enough for a child to play in. Until then, I will enjoy the hometown feel that Grove City's fall sports and community events bring.

The excitement and anticipation of fall school sports in Grove City is kicked off every year by Grove City High School's Marching Band street concerts. With members traveling through neighborhoods in the back of flatbed trucks, sharing their energy and excitement with pep band music, that activity puts me in the mood for fall sports.

This time of year, with several public and private high and middle schools, fall sports serve as the pulse of our town.

The rivalry match-ups between Central Crossing and Grove City high schools; Brookpark and Jackson middle schools; as well as Grove City Christian's spirited games provide a reason to come together, cheer the teams on and celebrate that all-important school and community pride.

It's at these events that we all have something in common -- a personal connection to one of the athletes, musicians in uniform or the school itself. If our team doesn't win or if they crush every other team, the stands remain packed.

Though we staunchly support our schools as athletes compete in sports, we all come together as neighbors and friends to enjoy our city's largest annual fall event -- Arts in the Alley.

Now in its 39th year, this celebration of art, music and culture is one of my favorite events.

As a member of the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce in 1979, I remember the planning for the first Arts in the Alley and getting excited about the opportunity to share the skill and creativity of our local artisans and musicians.

The event features free art activities, demonstrations and musical entertainment throughout the weekend.

It's great to see how the event has grown over the years, attracting thousands of visitors to Grove City and more than 100 juried exhibitors. The talent on display always amazes me as artists take part in shows spotlighting their skills in fine art, photography, quilting and crafts.

Every day I have the pleasure of seeing the creations made by the winners of the juried Easel Award art show from years past, as the works hang throughout City Hall.

If you haven't seen them yet, I invite you to stop by and enjoy.

We added the parade in 1989 to kick off the weekend, providing an anticipated annual display of proud community organizations, businesses, youth activities and marching bands. I have the good fortune of taking part at the beginning of the march, so I am able to be both a participant and a spectator.

So, I welcome fall and all it brings -- even the leaves that keep me busy in the yard. These fall traditions remind me what a wonderful hometown we have in Grove City.

Hosted by the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce, the Arts in the Alley Music and Arts Festival is set for 10 a.m. through 8 p.m. Sept. 15 and 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Sept. 16. The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. at Southwest Boulevard and Broadway, traveling south on Broadway and turning east onto Columbus Street.

Mayor Richard L. "Ike" Stage is serving his fifth term as mayor.