Fourth of July celebration plans throughout Upper Arlington were disrupted this year because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but organizations throughout the city still plan to celebrate the best they can.
For example, the Upper Arlington High School class of 1970 had planned to congregate in the city for a celebration to commemorate its 50-year reunion, with class members flying in from throughout the country. Those plans have since been called off.
The 1970 reunion is one of several Upper Arlington class reunions that have been canceled because of the pandemic, including celebrations for the classes of 1955, 1965, 1975 and 1980.
"There's a huge sense of disappointment because we have been planning this for a couple of years," said Barb Arnold Hamelberg, a member of the class of 1970 who lives in Delaware County. "There are people from all over the country who already have their plane tickets, and we're not getting any younger. The sooner that we can get together, the better."
"We have a big, very engaged group of classmates," class of 1970 student council president Rod Ebright said. "There's disappointment, but I think there's recognition that this is the wisest way to approach it. We regret it, but we accept the reality of it. And we figure we have an extra year now to plan the party."
However, the Upper Arlington Alumni Association still plans to celebrate Upper Arlington High School alumni this year "at a distance."
The alumni association plans to decorate the high school in support of the Upper Arlington Civic Association's Fourth of July home-decorating contest, will provide a "walk down memory lane" video and will be represented in the Upper Arlington Civic Association's Front Porch Parade to honor this year's alumni-award honorees.
Those alumni honorees are the class of 1993's Aimee White, the 2020 Outstanding Alumna whose work played a key role in raising more than $7 million to support the building of new and renovated schools in Upper Arlington; the class of 1965's Kent R. Beittel, director of the Open Shelter, a Columbus nonprofit that serves the homeless; and Upper Arlington alumni who are "essential workers" during the pandemic. Both Beittel and the essential workers are Distinguished Alumni Award honorees.
"Typically there is a presentation as part of the open house, where they can invite their classmates and family and friends, and we honor them in person," alumni association executive director Alice Finley said. "Obviously, this year we weren't able to do that, so we will still be honoring them through social media, and they will be in the Front Porch Parade. And when we are able to get back into the schools, we are hoping to have an open house. I'm not sure exactly when that will be, but we will at some point come together and have something in person."
The alumni association said it is trying to plan one more opportunity for an alumni event at the current high school. Upper Arlington's new high school is scheduled to be completed next summer, and association members are not certain whether the current building still would be accessible then.
"We have been brainstorming around what this event might look like and when would be the best time to bring people together," 2020 alumni association president Bill Hall said in a news release. "It will be a time to honor our past and celebrate our future. We welcome ideas."
Meanwhile, although Upper Arlington residents won't have a traditional July 4 celebration, they still will have a parade.
The Upper Arlington Civic Association, keeping with its 86-year tradition of putting together a July 4 celebration, will stage a "porch parade" to commemorate the holiday while adhering to social-distancing guidelines.
The Front Porch Parade will consist of vehicles only, with representation from groups that will include the military, the police and fire departments, Upper Arlington City Council, Upper Arlington alumni, including the class of 2020, and teachers recognized with this year's Golden Apple Awards.
In a break from previous years, two parade routes – the Freedom and Independence routes – are planned. They both will begin at 9 a.m. on Trentwood Road and are scheduled to conclude at 10:20 a.m. on North Star Road.
The theme is "United We Roar."
"Knowing what's going on today, it's only one aspect of celebration as we continue to evolve as a community and again become more united, (and that) is what I think it really comes down to," civic association president Brent Theaker said. "We're excited about it. We're disappointed that it's not traditional, but it's still something that we're participating in, being involved in the community, and, hopefully, the community has a similar reaction, as well."
For the full parade route, go to directors1933.uaca.org/wordpress/front-porch-parade.
For more information on alumni activities, go to bearalums.com.