AURORA — Thirteen colonies in what has become the United States declared their independence 143 years ago on July 4, and Aurora is ready to celebrate the anniversary.

In addition to being the anniversary of the birth of the nation, this year marks Aurora’s 220th birthday. It was in 1799 when the first settlers reached the city.

"As Aurora marks the city’s 220th birthday, we have focused much of the celebration on July 4 activities," said Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin.

Traditional activities will take place July 4, but one addition will kick off the holiday on July 3, when the movie "Sing" will be shown at 9 p.m. in the north parking lot of Aurora High.

Dozens of distance runners will arise early July 4 and gather at the Bicentennial Park gazebo on the Aurora Memorial Library grounds for the 35th annual 1-mile and 5K Fun Runs.

Registration begins at 7 a.m., with the 1-mile run starting at 8 a.m. and the 5K at 8:30. Awards will be presented immediately following the 5K in the gazebo.

Cars, trucks and tractors hooked up to floats will begin gathering in the Heinen’s and Barrington Town Square parking lots at 10 a.m. for the parade, which steps off at 11, going south on Route 306 and west on West Pioneer Trail to just past the main fire station.

Church groups, baseball and softball teams, businesses and neighborhood groups will march in the parade, which will be led by grand marshal Alan Connors, a 20-year city resident and mainstay of the Rotary Club of Aurora.

"The parade is always a highlight of the day, and participants are encouraged to incorporate the 220th birthday theme into their creativity," said Womer Benjamin. "A special parade award will go to the float with the best use of theme.

"I always walk in the parade, and this year state Sen. John Eklund will walk with me, while Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judi French will join us at Kiwanis-Moore Playground afterward for the awards ceremony.

"We also are especially fortunate to expect a military flyover by a cargo transport plane about 12:30 to commemorate Aurora’s birthday."

Once the last unit in the parade passes by the fire station, the July 4 festival will begin at Kiwanis-Moore Playground, and it will continue until about 3 p.m., with food, frog jumping, games, Jungle Terry, Flower the Clown and booths on hand.

Parade and festival attendees will have a few hours break until the band Post Road performs from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Kiwanis-Moore pavilion, and fireworks will cap the day’s festivities at 9:45 on the north side of West Pioneer Trail.

"Fireworks at dusk should pack an extra punch in celebration of the city’s 220th birthday," said the mayor, who added the rain date for fireworks is July 5. "Hopefully, the weather will accommodate the festivities," she concluded.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or