Vineyard Celebrates a Glorious Fourth of July

Parade Dazzles All; Fireworks Sparkle in Edgartown Sky

By RACHEL KOVAC

Molly Headly, age six, spun in circles waving her American flag while the Colonial Navy band marched by on Main street. The red, white and blue pompoms on her headband jumped back and forth as the little girl danced to her own rhythm. She didn't care much for the candy being thrown from the cars and floats as they passed by - she wanted more music.

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"Will they play more?" she asked her mother, Sarah Headly, after the band had passed by. Molly was just one of hundreds of children and adults lining the streets of Edgartown during the annual Fourth of July parade yesterday afternoon.

It was all patriotism, candy and floats at the parade. The sky was clear and the weather in the mid-seventies. Children sold lemonade, cookies and popcorn along the parade route. Families hosted parties with food and cocktails in their front yards. They played Frisbee and waited for the Oak Bluffs police to arrive on motorcycles, announcing the start of the festivities.

The highlight of the parade came toward the end, when the Edgartown fire department put on a show outside the Old Whaling Church. Members of the fire department pulled the Buttonwood, a pumper truck from 1925, down the entire parade route. Upon reaching the church the team stopped, connected the hose to the fire hydrant and soaked the crowd with water.

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The truck had not pumped any water since 1992. As the water sprayed down on the crowd, some jumped out of the way while others rushed toward it, thankful to be cooled off.

Tyler Foster, 11, who is visiting the Island for the seventh year with his family from New York, jumped into the street running toward the hose. He returned to his family dripping, his shoes squishing.

"That was cool," he said. "I wish they did that every year."

The parade had a slightly different feel this year, though it was still bursting with candy and American pride. The processional itself was shorter, as per the rule instituted by organizer Fred B. (Ted) Morgan Jr. that cars in the parade must date to no later than 1955, or be a convertible.

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Floats took up the majority of the parade. The grand prize winner was Sail Martha's Vineyard with a float brimming with sailboats and kids in life jackets.

But while the sailing program took the grand prize, it was Camp Jabberwocky that captured the hearts of parade goers. With a theme of We Love Our Animals, the campers traveled the parade route dressed as penguins, dogs, birds and other creatures. Some walked, some rode in a truck made to look like an iceberg and others were pushed in wheelchairs.

"Every year they come out and do something special," said Elizabeth Smith of West Tisbury. "Everyone always makes them feel welcome, clapping for them and cheering them on. And it always brings tears to my eyes."

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Mrs. Smith said she can only imagine what a great experience it is for the participants of Camp Jabberwocky, adding it is also a great experience for those watching. She said she has always been impressed by their commitment and hopes others feel the same way.

Other highlights included the Scottish bagpipers, the Bay State Band and the guitar duo from Featherstone Center for the Arts. As they played patriotic tunes, a child could occasionally be heard singing along to You're a Grand Old Flag.

The Edgartown National Bank, celebrating 100 years, created a float that replicated the bank on Main street. Two musicians - on saxophone and electric guitar - played Tequila as the float passed.

Working Earth got everyone moving with its drum line. A varied collection of drums and shakers played a rasta beat as the group moved along the route, encouraging watchers to dance or tap their feet or just sway from side to side a little.

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The Martha's Vineyard Peace Council filled in at the middle of the parade with a patriotic tribute to peace and justice. They held banners that called for equality and an end to racism. They urged people to support U.S. troops by bringing them home. They carried American flags and wooden doves.

A favorite for many and winner of the prize for most original was the FARM Institute float. As it turned the corner onto Main street, the green John Deere tractor inspired several smiles. Like a hay ride, the gleaming tractor pulled a float filled with hay and young children throwing candy into the crowd.

Jaws and pirates were a common theme throughout the parade. The Vineyard Haven Band played on a float covered in bunting and backed by the flowered Jaws that stood outside Donaroma's Nursery in Edgartown during Jaws Fest.

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Pimpneymouse Farm also boasted a Jaws-themed float. Vineyard Tease, a T-shirt shop in Oak Bluffs, drove the parade route in an Amity police truck with a replica of Jaws breaching from the truck. As they came to the end of the route, those riding threw candy out in handfuls, trying to get rid of it before the parade ended.

The Edgartown Yacht Club won the prize for most patriotic float - a collection of sails surrounded by patriotic bunting. Kids dressed in white and wearing American flag top hats, hidden between the sails, waved and threw candy. The yacht club is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

As the parade came to a close, fire trucks from all the Island towns sounded their sirens. They were followed by the lifeguards from Edgartown, who manned the last truck in the parade.

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After the parade made its way back to the Edgartown School people filled the downtown streets, shopping, buying ice cream or picnicking on the Dr. Daniel Fisher House lawn. As night fell, cooling off Edgartown, people pulled on sweatshirts and found the perfect spot to watch the fireworks shoot over Edgartown harbor.

Sponsored by the Edgartown Volunteer Firemen's Association, the first explosion lit up the clear night sky around 9 p.m. Bursts of color fell toward the water as people lined the streets near the harbor and the beach near the lighthouse.

The show illuminated the smiles on the faces of all those watching as the rockets capped off another Island Fourth of July.