All roads led to Edgartown on the afternoon of the Fourth of July as spectators lined the streets, and floats gathered at the Edgartown School waiting to take part in the patriotic festivities. Many arrived in cars and on floats, others on oxen and some on foot, such as the Colonial Navy of Massachusetts Fife and Drum Corps.

Carmin Calabrese, a member of the corps, was dressed in his uniform — a red striped shirt, white pants and black shoes with large buckles. He’s been marching in the parade for about 10 years, he said, but in his uniform he looks as though he marched straight out of the Revolutionary War.

Island Spirit Kayak was ready for the rain with their life preservers. — Jonathan Fleischmann

“It’s great that people come out and celebrate like this. I hope it goes on forever,” Mr. Calabrese said.

Seven-year-old Max Cooley arrived at the parade after spending the morning catching crabs. For his afternoon catch, the young fisherman was looking to reel in some candy.

“I heard people on the floats throw it,” he said.

Not long after the parade stepped off at 5 p.m. the sky turned gray and the rain showers began. Some took shelter on porches or beneath leafy trees but most stood their ground, cheering and waving and smiling.

Wearing their finest on a day that means freedom. — Jonathan Fleischmann

A few very lucky paraders, such as those with the Island Spirit Kayak float, were well prepared for the sudden downpour. With their life preservers and paddles, they had little trouble making it to the parade’s finish line.

Norma Holmes marched in the parade as part of the Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council. She has been marching for more than a decade, she said. For her, marching in the parade is more than just an opportunity to celebrate — it is an opportunity to demonstrate beliefs.

“I think it’s important to celebrate our independence,” she said. “I also think it’s important that we challenge authority.”

Camp Jabberocky float is always a crowd favorite. — Jonathan Fleischmann

Ms. Holmes carried a sign and wore pins with messages advocating for peace.

Like Ms. Holmes, Mike Cassidy and his wife Debbie Grant see the parade as an opportunity to think about a bigger picture. The couple has been part of various floats ever since their daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. They began as part of the Jimmy Fund float, then when their daughter’s health began improving they joined the Make-a-Wish Foundation float. Later they marched with the Children’s Literacy and Animal Shelter floats. This year, they joined a float advocating for world peace.

“We march for world peace because of everything going on in the world,” Mr. Cassidy said. “We need to remember that we are more than this community. We are more than this country. We march for our world community.”

Rain arrived but not many left the celebration. — Jonathan Fleischmann

For many paraders and spectators, today was a first.

Roger and Mary Funk typically visit their children on-Island by boat. This year, they brought their 1956 DeSoto Firefight convertible to ride in the parade. The car, Mr. Funk said, is nearly identical to the one in which the couple took their first ride together in 1951.

Dwayne Snider, who traveled to the Island from central Texas to visit his daughter and son-in-law, prepared to watch the parade for the first time from a bench on Main street

Old button tub fire engine makes an appearance. — Jonathan Fleischmann

“It’s a slice of Americana. It will be nice to see how this compares to the parades we have at home,” he said.

Dr. Dale VandeHaar made his first trip to the Island from Des Moines, Iowa. He secured a prime spectator location on Main street at 2:30 p.m.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the parade’s made of,” he said. “It’ll be fun to see what all the units are.”

Longtime parade-goers such as Mitch Studley, knew just what to expect. Mr. Studley divides his time between Long Island, N.Y. and Edgartown, where he has seen countless parades.

“It’s not my first rodeo,” Mr. Studley said.

More pictures.