Columbus native Tony Stewart will climb back into a car after his retirement as a NASCAR driver — in a passenger seat while traveling along a downtown street.

Stewart, the three-time NASCAR champion who is on the final laps of his 18-year career as a Sprint Cup driver, will return to his hometown Dec. 3 to be guest of honor in the city’s Festival of Lights Parade, Mayor Jim Lienhoop said Friday.

Stewart has appeared in Columbus parades before — the most recent one five years ago to the day.

See Saturday’s Republic for more details.