FAIRBORN — Events have been finalized and a grand marshal selected for Fairborn’s Fourth of July parade this weekend. The Fairborn Festival Committee announced it will honor the late Dr. Alicia Eckhart, former Fairborn Parks and Recreation director, by posthumously naming her grand marshal of the 2021 Fourth of July Parade.
”Alicia untimely passed in February of 2020 but her spirit and passion for the city, its parks and its citizens will live on through her many contributions to the community,” a committee spokesperson wrote in the announcement.
Eckhart was slated to have received the honor last year, but the parade was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Eckhart started her work with the city in 2012. Over the course of her tenure, she “revitalized recreation programming” and conducted a community needs assessment for a more thorough parks and recreation master plan, according to the announcement. She was instrumental in obtaining state and federal funding for numerous projects which included a National Fitness Campaign fitness court, a new entrance to Fairfield Park along with softball field lighting, a dog park, Garland Reserve, a mobile recreation fun truck, storybook, trail and a lighted Christmas horse parade.
According to the festival committee, she received several state and community awards, including the 2014 first place Partnership Award for the shared facility between the City of Fairborn and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and the Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Ambassador Award.
“From her passionate personality, out of the box ideas, dedication to making sure events and programs went off without a hitch, love for all things Ohio State, commitment to the parks system, and her absolute love for this organization and community — Alicia will be missed immensely,” Fairborn Communications Manager Meghan Howard said in February 2020.
According to her obituary, Eckhart commuted to her job in Fairborn from her home in Columbus, and earned her doctorate from The Ohio State University.
The 73rd annual Fairborn Fourth of July parade will get underway at 2 p.m. on July 4, and follow its traditional route up Central Avenue and down Main Street.