For over eighty years, the Upper Arlington Civic Association (UACA) has served the community of Upper Arlington by sponsoring the city’s annual Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks celebration. First organized in 1933, the UACA was incorporated in 2010 and recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization in November, 2012. Through the support of its members and in partnership with the City of Upper Arlington, the UACA currently sponsors seven different family friendly events for the residents and youth of Upper Arlington.
The Upper Arlington Civic Association was formed in 1932. The newly formed organization held its first meeting on April 28, 1933 in a school gymnasium. As its very first activity, the newly formed UACA set about making plans to sponsor a 4th of July celebration, an event that would soon become its namesake.
Throughout its history, the organization has always functioned as a non-profit and no part of its earnings have ever been paid to private shareholders or individuals. The organization has also refrained from attempts to influence legislation or participate in political campaigns.
From its creation in 1932 to the present day, the UACA has formed an essential part of the Upper Arlington community and focused its activities upon charitable purposes, including relieving the city of the expense incurred by other central Ohio communities in connection with 4th of July parades and firework celebrations. As the organization matured, additional community events and educational activities were added.
From its founding in 1937 until 2010, The Upper Arlington Civic Association operated as an unincorporated association under Ohio law. Both before and after its incorporation, the UACA was governed by 20 to 30 volunteer directors who served two year terms and elected a set of officers each year. The unincorporated association dedicated its activities to charitable and educational purposes. No part of the UACA’s earnings inured to the benefit of private shareholders or individuals and the organization has always been strictly non-political. The UACA was recognized as exempt under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code in April, 1969. While not formerly incorporated, the organization operated pursuant to a set of written bylaws for many years.
On October 12, 2010, Articles of Incorporation for a non-profit corporation known as the Upper Arlington Civic Association were filed with the Ohio Secretary of State. At a special meeting of the Upper Arlington Civic Association held on October 4, 2010, the Board of Directors of the unincorporated association voted unanimously to wrap up the affairs of that entity and to transfer all of the organization’s assets, liabilities, rights and obligations to the newly formed corporation. As set forth in the corporation’s Articles, the express purpose of its incorporation was to be organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
IV. PAST AND PRESENT ACTIVITIES
Today, the UACA sponsors nine community events throughout the year for the residents of Upper Arlington, Ohio: 4th of July, Junior Director Program, Golden Apple Awards, Easter Egg Hunt, Big Band Swing, Labor Neighbor Day, Haunted Forest, Christmas in the Park, and the Memorial Day Race. The UACA has undertaken all of these activities for over ten consecutive years and the organization plans to continue sponsoring these events in the future.
1. 4th of July Celebration
The UACA’s oldest event and the one it is most associated with is the annual 4th of July parade and fireworks. For nearly 80 years, the UACA has shouldered the responsibility for organizing, funding, insuring, and publicizing this event, which takes place on the city’s streets and in its public parks. Since 1933, the UACA has organized the annual 4th of July parade, which is both non-commercial and non- political. The UACA also schedules, organizes, insures, and pays for the annual 4th of July fireworks display, which takes place in an Upper Arlington city park. The parade and fireworks consume about 50% of the organization’s annual budget. These events also represent the largest contribution of UACA director and volunteer labor.
While every large municipality in Franklin County, Ohio sponsors a 4th of July fireworks presentation or parade, Upper Arlington’s is one of the only ones that are not paid for by taxpayer funds. By raising funds from the community and providing both funds and labor, the UACA relieves the City of Upper Arlington of a civic expense and burden that it would otherwise pay for the residents.
2. Junior Directors Program
Since 1989, the UACA has sponsored a Junior Directors Program that encourages and rewards community service by awarding between six and twelve Junior Director positions to high school juniors who are residents of Upper Arlington.
Each Junior Director spends a year serving the community by helping the UACA at its various events. At the conclusion of the program, Junior Directors are awarded scholarship grants that have varied over the years between $750 and $1,500. This program represents the second biggest annual expenditure of contributed funds to the UACA. In addition to the scholarship, this program provides participating students with a hands-on educational and community service opportunity that is much sought after by college applicants.
Eligible applicants for the Junior Director program must be high school juniors and residents of Upper Arlington who are wiling to commit one year of community service to the Upper Arlington Civic Association. Selection criteria considered by the Selection Committee include community involvement, academic potential and leadership potential. A new Selection Committee is recruited each year from both current directors of the UACA and members of the community.
3. Golden Apple Awards
In the spring of every year, the UACA solicits nominations from public and private high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, and pre-schools located within Upper Arlington for the most deserving teacher in each school. Nominations are made by both children and adults and are reviewed by the UACA Directors before the “Golden Apple” recipient is selected for each school. In April, personal presentations are made to each of the teachers, typically in a surprise classroom visit, who receive a plaque paid for by the UACA and public recognition among the community.
4. Easter Egg Hunt
The annual Easter Egg Hunt takes place in an Upper Arlington city park on a Saturday in April or May. This event is sponsored in partnership with the City of Upper Arlington and its Parks and Recreation Department, which sets aside park space for the event and assists with advertising the event to the community. This event would not be possible without the partnership of the UACA. The organization purchases the candy distributed to children participating in the event, provides 20 volunteers to set up and administer the event, and publicizes the event to the community.
5. UA Stage (which replaced Big Band Swing)
This annual dinner and social event is sponsored by the UACA for the senior citizen community. There is no charge to attend and it is open to all residents of the City of Upper Arlington. The UACA serves dinner to participants who then serve as the audience for the dress rehearsal of the Upper Arlington High School theater production.
6. Labor Neighbor Day
On Labor Day each year since 1959, the UACA has sponsored a variety of family friendly events for the community, including children’s bike races and a wiffle- ball tournament for elementary age children. Like other UACA events, this event is advertised to the community at large by both the City of Upper Arlington and the UACA. Activities are offered to residents without charge and take place at Upper Arlington city parks and private parking lots.
7. Golden Bear Scare
In 1977, the UACA added a Halloween event to its list of annual activities. The event was founded as a safe alternative to beggars night and was later transformed into a haunted castle or forest populated by ghouls and goblins. Today, the UACA Golden Bear Scare takes place in an Upper Arlington city park, Smith Nature Reserve, and is offered to the community free of charge, and is paid for and staffed exclusively by UACA Directors and volunteers.
8. Christmas in the Park
Each December, the UACA sponsors a visit with Santa Clause for neighborhood children. This event takes place in a city park and includes craft stations, photo opportunities for parents, a horse drawn sleigh ride, and a personal visit with Santa Clause. This event is offered free of charge to community parents and is organized, staffed and paid for by the UACA.
9. Memorial Day Run
Since 1971, the UACA has sponsored a five mile road race, which takes place on the public streets of Upper Arlington. Adult registrants pay a registration fee that covers expenses paid to the race provider. A one mile fun run is held free of charge for children. UACA Directors and volunteers organize the race and provide traffic control along the race route at the direction of the Upper Arlington Police Department.
The UACA raises 100% of its budget through fundraising to support its activities. Fundraising is undertaken through mail solicitations, personal solicitations, and donations made on the organization’s website. Over ninety percent of those funds are raised from individual contributions of between $10 and $25 per individual or family. The UACA raises most of these funds through an annual mailing sent to prior donors, which is followed by the “The Walk” – a door to door solicitation made by over 400 residents who volunteer their time over a weekend to raise money for the UACA and its activities. The UACA also solicits corporate contributions from companies that do business in the community. These funds typically make up between 5-10% of the annual budget.