If nothing else, this July Fourth was a celebration the founding fathers would have approved of — a celebration of life, liberty, and above all, the pursuit of happiness. Parade-goers wore ribbons in their hair, held flags in their hands and were all smiles with ice cream dripping down their chins as they eagerly awaited the first floats of the annual Edgartown parade.

John MacKenty sat in an antique green Rolls Royce, leading a careful of veterans through the parade. Mr. MacKenty, a Korean War veteran, would have preferred to lead the parade as the flag bearer as he once had, but was happy to be enjoying the view from the passenger seat.

“I love the spirit of the crowd,” Mr. MacKenty said. “The turn from North Water street to Main street is very moving.”

fire fighters
Firefighters’ fitness training pays off in parade run. — Ray Ewing

With the hum of bagpipes in the distance, police officers were quick to move people out of the streets and onto the sidewalks. “It’s coming, it’s coming!” one little girl squealed with happiness. “I want the front row!” shouted one little boy among the crowd, hoping to have the best view in the sea of red, white and blue. With a few pokes from the end of his flag, he made his way to the edge of the sidewalk, poised with excitement.

But you’re never too young, or too old, to attend your first July Fourth parade. Just ask Ed Russell of West Tisbury, who attended the parade for the first time to support his friend and fellow veteran Tom Bennett. “This is great,” Mr. Russell said. “I think they squeezed every summer resident into Edgartown today.”

Chris Scott
Chris Scott carries American Flag for Scottish society. — Ivy Ashe

Standing on Main street, Mr. Russell traded in his uniform from the Viet Nam War for a pair of red, white and blue suspenders, and was admiring everyone else’s themed outfits. “The kids are fantastic,” he said pointing out one little girl’s tiara and another holding a flag. “It’s America.”

With hands clutching American and Don’t Tread On Me flags, a copy of the Constitution on one float, and the Star Spangled Banner playing in the distance, patriots came out in full force to celebrate their country. Even a British clothing store on South Water street decorated a statue with an Uncle Sam top hat.

America was broadly represented as floats drove by the crowd tossing out Pixie Sticks and lollipops, Mardi Gras beads and pink Vineyard Vines foam hats in the shape of a whale. The crowd cheered when the 1950s Dukes County sheriff’s car honked its siren, and jumped when the Colonial Army of Fall River blew their muskets into the air.

Anthony Chick
Capful of candy for Anthony Chick. — Ivy Ashe

“It’s great everyone gets together on the Fourth,” Mike Klumick of the Edgartown volunteer fire department said from the back of his fire truck. He said there had been no security issues during the day.

The hot and clear day didn’t stop the crowds of people from enjoying the parade, and many stopped for a snack at the barbecue on the lawn of the Dr. Daniel Fisher House, a glass of lemonade in front of Edgartown Books, or bought popcorn from a young street vendor.

Arline Harkness was helping sell lobster rolls on the front lawn of St. Elizabeth’s Church. Asked what she enjoyed most about the parade, she said it was the variety of people the parade brought together. “All the different people from all different places is the best,” Ms. Harkness said. “And the million-dollar view,” one fellow volunteer added.

parade main street
Riding on bales of hay down Main street, U.S.A. — Ray Ewing

An Uncle Sam look-alike decked out in three-piece tuxedo with American flags led the Camp Jabberwocky float, top hat and all. Camp Jabberwocky in Outer Space had a space ship of a van, with campers and counselors dressed up as Star Wars characters and planets.

Parade attendees danced on the sidelines to Camp Jabberwocky’s band, and sang along to the Pig Pen Theatre company’s rendition of American Pie from the back of their pickup truck. The Vineyard Haven Band played Grand Old Flag, while the Colonial Navy played Yankee Doodle.

Marisa Boniface and her husband, summer residents of Edgartown, were perched on the railing of the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank on the corner of School street, poised to take in the parade. “I love that it’s old-fashioned and not commercialized,” she said of their 20th year at the parade. “It’s real down to earth.”

Miles Jorrien
Miles Sidoti and Jorrien ahren admire the passing parade in front of the Point Way Inn. — Ivy Ashe

Other floats included Rising Tide Therapeutic Equestrian Center’s float of Pegasus made from branches, the Vineyard Assembly of God’s personification of George Washington crossing the Delaware River, and Martha’s Vineyard Online’s Little Mermaid float. The Island Alpaca Farm had their adorable animals in the back seat of a minivan with the doors open.

While some were lucky to receive the frozen lemonade from the stand-on-wheels handing out free lemonade along the parade route, the real winners this year were the Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ and Girls’ Club, whose chicken-coop-themed float took first prize this year.

“I love giving kids their first experience of the parade,” said Suzan Bellincampi, executive director of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. The Felix Neck Fern and Feather camp’s float, The Buzz at Felix Neck, won the prize for most original float. It featured a six-foot-tall beehive and campers dressed up as bees, swarming around the hive.

Could it be more spectacular? — Ray Ewing

And even as children finished stuffing their pockets with candy, the Bay State Band put down the drumsticks and the parade came to a close, the celebration was not over.

The day ended with a display of fireworks fit for a celebration of America’s 234th birthday, a performance some said was the best they’d seen in years, aided no doubt by the picture-perfect summer weather. One group gathered against Ernie Boch’s lawn in Katama to watch the fireworks display, racing to get a good spot against the fence.

As darkness approached, the chatter calmed, heads tilted back, and the silhouettes were framed by bombs bursting in air, one more time.