Bexley needs someone to lead parade

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Cindy Phillips, left, and Crystal Salt, longtime volunteers with the Bexley Celebrations Association, are stepping away from their responsibilities for coordinating the Fourth of July parade and fireworks after this year, and are looking for residents to step up to keep the events going.

Will the parade pass Bexley by?

If someone doesn’t step up to help organize the annual Fourth of July procession, this could be the last year for the event, longtime Bexley Celebrations Association volunteer Cindy Phillips is warning. The fireworks could fizzle, also.

“This is a call to arms for people to participate,” stated Phillips, who, with her husband, Pat, has helped coordinate community events for 24 years.

With more job responsibilities and her children getting older, Phillips has decided that this is her last year shouldering the work needed to keep the parade going.

Other longtime volunteers Steve and Crystal Salt are also curtailing their duties.

While the BCA receives logistical support from the city and the recreation department, such as meeting space, the parade and fireworks are handled by volunteers and supported through donations, Phillips emphasized.

“If no one steps up immediately after the fireworks to volunteer, there will be no parade next year,” Mayor David Madison echoed. “That could be the worst thing ever to happen to the city. This is our most American parade.”

There will be an opportunity to learn more about participating at a meeting July 18 at 7 p.m. at

Jeffrey

Mansion .

Part of the problem is that the number of people volunteering with the BCA has dwindled over the years, leaving more responsibilities for the remaining few, Phillips said.

Donations are likewise waning, she added. It costs the BCA about $25,000 to put on the parade and fireworks display, with the city contributing another $5,000 in police and staff overtime.

Fundraising is one part of the job. Another big part is communicating with the parade entries, writing media releases, providing transportation, even arranging for portable rest rooms.

Typically around 125 entries sign up to take part in the Bexley parade, making it one of the largest non-commercial and non-political parades in the

Midwest .

While it’s a lot of work, Phillips said it’s also “a lot of fun.”

And the more, the merrier.

“If we can get 10 to 15 people, and each one could take a piece of this, it would be manageable,” Phillips said.

City recreation supervisor Barb Greiner agreed, likening it to a family where everyone takes on a task and no one is left carrying the full weight.

“Bexley is a special place, and it speaks to the community that we are willing to take it on ourselves,” Greiner said. “Like a family, you have to work together to keep the family strong.”

The recreation department provides support, but it’s up to the residents to take the lead, Greiner pointed out. “We’re there to hold your hand. But we can’t take it on.”

Another community event, Summerfest, sponsored by the Bexley Chamber of Commerce, folded up its tents after a hiatus for street construction and the departure of its organizers, Madison noted.

City-funded Memorial Day and Labor Day block parties have shrunk (although a full-day Labor Day celebration is planned for this year).

The BCA is also responsible for the Halloween harvest festival and the holiday tree lighting.

The Fourth of July festivities are the biggest community celebration in Bexley, with reunions and residents gathering, the organizers said.

“I can’t imagine Bexley without a parade,”

Madison commented.

On a side note, Phillips said that Bexley’s fireworks will not be affected by a fire at a warehouse owned by the Hamburg Company, which provides the city’s pyrotechnics.

Phillips is confident that Bexley’s hasn’t heard its last marching band or seen its last rocket’s red glare.

“I think we can rally the troops. People need to step up and take on a piece of this,” she said.

Bexley Celebrations Association has announced its 2007 Honorary Citizen of the Year – retiring Montrose Elementary principal and 30-year school district employee Terry Black.

This honor is bestowed each year during the city’s Fourth of July celebration and is selected from nominations submitted to BCA by Bexley residents.

Terry Black has been an asset to the Bexley community and to hundreds of children within the

Bexley

City

School system since 1977. He has served as assistant high school principal, interim junior high School principal, interim superintendent, and most recently since 1983, the principal of Montrose Elementary School.

Under Black’s leadership, Montrose has made significant gains in its academic scores, particularly reading. All the while, Black has maintained a personal touch with his students, inviting them into his office to read to him, and leading the annual Halloween parade in a moose costume, the school’s mascot.

Prior to his years as a leader within the

Bexley

City

School system, he was a teacher, coach and assistant high school principal within Columbus Public Schools.

He is a graduate of

Grove City

High School and received his B.S. in Education from

Capital

University and his M.A. from

Xavier

University.

While serving at Bexley, Black was honored as Educator of the Year in 2005. The Montrose PTO is raising money for the

Terry

Black

Outdoor

Learning

Center , to be located behind the school as a canopied area for study in the open air.

The theme for the community’s Fourth of July celebration is “Kicking Off Bexley’s Centennial.” Bexley was incorporated as a village in 1908.

The day will begin with registration for the John Barr 5K Run at 6:30 a.m., at

Jeffrey

Mansion , with the race starting at 8 a.m.

Parade entrants will begin lining up at 8:15, with judging of antique cars and decorated bicycles. The parade starts at 9:30. The Bexley Lions Club will be leading the way, handing out the parade line-up, and Boy Scouts from Troop 166 will hand out more than 5,000 American flags.

Afternoon events at Jeffrey Park include the Bexley Area Art Guild Show at noon, and an ice cream social from 1-4 p.m., sponsored by the Bexley Historical Society.

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