Edgartown Christmas Weekend Kicks Off Season of Festivities

By BRETT FERRY

A stroll down Main street in Edgartown during the past week might not have brought to mind many thoughts of Christmas.

Despite the garland-wrapped lampposts and the door-hung wreaths with red bows, the few pedestrians that were out wore short sleeves. And the local UPS man was working up a sweat delivering boxes of inventory to local shops - wearing shorts. The sidewalks have been anything but crowded and parking has been a cinch.

Of course, reminded one shop owner, it is still the very beginning of December. The bare trees in town are letting through warm air and sunshine rather than the chilly offshore breeze common in December. Where's the cold air and snow, the people scurrying down Main street wearing scarves and peacoats?

Whether winter as New Englanders know it ever arrives, the Christmas in Edgartown starts tonight, kicking off a long list of Island holiday events. Groups have organized a variety of activities to heighten the holiday spirit.

Starting at 2 p.m. today, for example, eight Edgartown inns will open their doors to the community, displaying festive décor and sharing holiday cheer. At 6 p.m., in the Baylies Room of the Old Whaling Church, The Yard colony for performing artists will host a traditional holiday supper and auction to benefit its community arts education program. Their popular multicultural programs range from community classes to main stage events.

At 6:30 p.m., the Edgartown lighthouse will be surrounded by candles and carolers for its annual lighting ceremony. Over in Tisbury, the musical Arthur's Christmas will be performed at 7:30 p.m. at the Vineyard Playhouse (and again Saturday night, then Sunday at 2 p.m.).

Saturday's events bring more of an historic flavor to the weekend. The Anchors in Edgartown hosts an old-fashioned holiday celebration starting at 9:30 a.m. A holiday bazaar with silent auction lasting until 1 p.m, the Anchors' event will help support the senior center.

At 10 a.m. the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society opens its doors to the public and keeps them open until 5 p.m. with refreshments and a great opportunity to get a taste of Island heritage by browsing the many exhibits. For do-it-yourselfers, Donoroma's on upper Main street will hold a wreath-making workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For those who prefer to give a handcrafted gift, the Edgartown School will be throwing a holiday crafts fair, also from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On display will be gifts and art from more than 40 Island vendors.

Of course, at 11 a.m. all attention will turns to Edgartown's annual holiday parade. Creative floats, antique cars, school children, members of the Vineyard Haven band and many others will meander down Main street, spreading holiday spirit throughout the town.

More historic flavor will abound in Vineyard Haven, where free horse-drawn carriage rides are offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Then the Minnesingers kick off evening events back in Edgartown with a family concert at 4 p.m. at the Whaling Church.

After that, gentlemen should find their favorite ladies and head to the annual Christmas Ball at the Harbor View Hotel. All food and services are donated by local businesses, and proceeds benefit the Martha's Vineyard Boys' and Girls' Club. Beginning at 7 p.m. with a cocktail reception, the elegant evening features a four-course holiday dinner and concludes with hours of live band dancing.

Kids: be sure to get up early enough on Sunday morning to join Santa Claus for breakfast at the Wharf Pub. With his hectic schedule, he can only be there from 8:30 to 11 a.m. A Wharf employee has confirmed that it is the real Santa Claus, and that he will be leaving at 11 a.m. sharp to return to his seasonal work. All proceeds from breakfast, including $3 photos with Santa, will benefit the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce Educational and Charitable Foundation Scholarship Fund.

It is a weekend filled with fun holiday events, offering tons to do for everyone of all ages. Most planned events benefit a worthy cause; the aforementioned are only a few that fill the Island calendar. So get out and participate in all that is Christmas in Edgartown and the real start of the holiday season on the Island.