Gahanna will pay "Tribute to our Troops & Veterans," with the Gahanna Lions Club July Fourth parade.

Chuck Rees, parade chairman, said Jack Bridges, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4719, Marti Bridges, auxiliary president of the VFW Post 4719, and Jack Steinhausser, commander of American Legion Post 797, will be the parade's grand marshals.

"They've never been recognized before," Rees said. "The VFW and American Legion do a lot, not only for Gahanna but (also) for the eastern part of Franklin County. The honor guard does over 125 funerals a year. We (participate) for anyone who's a veteran who wants us. That's quite an accomplishment."

Jack Bridges said he has been with VFW Post 4719 about eight years and is a 50-year VFW member. He said he also has been in the American Legion, on and off, for about 20 years.

He said he was surprised when he was asked to be a grand marshal.

"I'm kind of excited about it," he said. "It feels like an honor to be asked. I was more than happy to do it."

Bridges is a past district commander.

While serving in the U.S. Army, he was stationed in Vietnam, Korea and Germany.

His wife, Marti Bridges, said she has managed four VFW post auxiliaries, including Gahanna's VFW Post 4719, Whitehall's VFW Post 8794, South Bloomfield's VFW Post 7941 and Reynoldsburg's VFW Post 9473.

"When we got married, I started working for the VFW," she said. "My brothers were all Marines. It seemed natural to go into helping the veterans who have fought for us."

She said her job as auxiliary president isn't just managing but also feeding veterans and helping them in other ways.

"Some vets have a hard time adjusting, coming back from Desert Storm and places like that," Bridges said. "It's a neat feeling (knowing) you helped them a little bit."

She said it's a big honor to be one of the grand marshals.

Steinhausser, honor guard captain for VFW 4719 and American Legion Post 797, said he can't believe he will be one of the parade's grand marshals.

"I'm usually marching with the honor guard doing the flag," he said. "This is a great honor."

Steinhausser has been in the VFW for 35 years and the American Legion for 25 years.

He's a Vietnam-era veteran and served in the Army during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Participants in this year's parade should gather at 9 a.m. July 4 behind Clark Hall, 380 Granville St., Rees said.

The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m., exiting onto Granville Street, going west between Clark Hall and Dairy Queen and ending at the Royal Plaza shopping center on Stygler Road for pedestrians and bicycles. The motorized units will continue to Gahanna Middle School West.

Rees said he anticipates close to 100 participants in the parade.

"I encourage the ones in the parade to pass out candy rather than throw it," he said.

Gahanna Mayor Tom Kneeland said he will distribute button "participation awards" at the parade, and he plans to walk with the Make Gahanna Yours team, handing out 1,500 American flags along the route.

After the parade, a Community Family Day will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. at Creekside Park and Plaza, 117 Mill St.

There will be live music on the Rotary Stage, family activities and food trucks.

The day will conclude with fireworks at 10 p.m. at the Gahanna Municipal Golf Course, 220 Olde Ridenour Road.

The course opens at 6 p.m. for people to pick their spots for viewing, with food and drink vendors on site. If it rains on the Fourth, the fireworks show will be moved to July 5.

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