AURORA -- When Gerald Kohanski takes his spot as Aurora's July 4 parade grand marshal it will not be just him riding in the lead car -- it will be the entire city of Aurora.

"When I ride in that parade, I'll be riding for everybody," said Kohanski. "It's quite an honor."

Kohanski, 69, who has been on the Aurora Board of Education for 20 years --18 as president -- was named grand marshal by Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin in a June 19 press release.

"Jerry has been an incomparable leader for our school system, and we have all reaped the benefits through schools that are second to none in Northeast Ohio," Womer Benjamin wrote in the release. "I hope everyone joins me in thanking Jerry for his commitment to service and his many contributions to making Aurora a great place to live and raise a family."

Kohanski said he is very honored to be joining past recipients of the parade grand marshal honor. "It made my day," Kohanski said of the day he was informed he was chosen.

Kohanski, who is a retired business executive, has lived in Aurora for about 31 years, he said. He is also an adjunct professor of English at Kent State University.

"Between the School Board and teaching, it doesn't really feel like I've retired," Kohanski said laughing. "Teaching keeps me involved with the younger people, and I can learn as much from them as they learn from me."

Kohonski said he is going to try to talk his wife Mary, the secretary to Aurora schools superintendent Pat Ciccantelli, into riding with him and one of his granddaughters -- Clara, 10. But he does not think it will work.

"My wife is really my strength and my bedrock, and shess really someone who doesn't like a lot of attention so she may or may not," he said."But I wouldn't put money on it."

He has another granddaughter, who is 7, but she's involved in soccer, baseball and basketball and will probably ride with one of her teams, he said.

"Like I told the mayor, I was overwhelmed. And it takes a lot to overwhelm me," he said. "I'm riding for everybody in the schools and also riding for the town.

"I've lived here 31 years. It's been a wonderful place to live, raise a family and my grandchildren all live here. It's just an honor and I'm going to enjoy the heck out it -- I really am."

The parade begins at 11 a.m. at Barrington Town Square. For a complete list of Independence Day festivities, visit www.auroraoh.com/641/July-4th-Activities.

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