Upper Arlington is immensely proud of its heritage, as displayed by the well-kept home exteriors and the ever-present adornments of black and gold. Golden Bear paw prints are painted as embellishments on driveways, and lawn signs announce team memberships, participation in school organizations and college plans.
Civic pride is never more apparent than on the Fourth of July. Alumni return to reconnect with former classmates, neighbors and friends celebrate together, and the evening culminates in a remarkable fireworks show. The origin of the Fourth of July parade may well be traced to the annual Field Day festivities beginning in 1916, organized by Grandview, Marble Cliff and a young Upper Arlington. Upper Arlington began its own celebration in 1923, with a parade, athletic contests, picnics, dancing and reworks.
Wake up calls honoring Paul Revere’s ride began in 1932, and to this day volunteers drive through neighborhoods calling upon residents to wake up and join the fun. Since 1933, the Upper Arlington Civic Association has directed the Fourth of July celebration. Early on they instituted the tradition of the parade being led by drummers, a fife-player and a flag bearer, in a re-enactment of Archibald Willard’s Revolutionary War battlefield painting, “The Spirit of ’76.” Generations of Murphy, Long and Millisor families have fulfilled these roles over the decades.
As the community expanded northward, the festivities moved in the mid- 1950s from centering on Miller Park and Jones stadium to using Northwest Boulevard as the main parade route. Annually painted with red, white and blue stars, the street is lined with lawn chairs in the days prior, as residents reserve their viewing space. After the morning parade, family and friends often attend afternoon neighborhood cookouts before heading to Northam Park. Once the crowd has “oohed” and “aahed” at the reworks, the day ends with the tolling of the bells of St. Agatha church… and planning for the next year’s celebration begins.