The eighth annual New Year's Eve celebration in Tisbury has a new look, mixing highlights of years past - the hat parade, fireworks, Marcus the Magician - with brand-new events over a two-day period.
With more than 20 events taking place on Dec. 31, and 16 additional events on the first day of the new year, Islanders and visitors alike will have plenty to choose from. Without a doubt, those in attendance will welcome the year 2002 in high spirits.
Events on Dec. 31 begin at 2 p.m. and end after midnight. Admission to many events requires a button costing $10. For Island schoolchildren, the button is $5. Button holders will also get some deals at local businesses, like a free coffee at Cumberland Farms.
The button declares Tisbury is entering a new era of new year's celebrations. It reads "A New Future" in large white letters and bears the new name of the celebration: Last Night, First Day.
The hours leading up to the 9:30 p.m. fireworks display are centered around music, from the jazz notes of the J.C. Trio to the folk music of the Kenny Lockwood Ensemble. Bands will play at five different locations, all within walking distance.
At the Vineyard Assembly of God, a family outing features the band Holy Fire from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Looking for more than just blues or folk? Mark Alan Lovewell plays from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Unitarian-Universalist Society, providing listeners with songs and stories related to the sea.
If the daring wish to take center stage themselves, there is karaoke at Sodapops from 2 to 10 p.m.
Others who desire a change of pace can watch WIMP, the Island's eight-year-old improvisational comedy group, and laugh away an hour from 8 to 9 p.m., at the Vineyard Playhouse.
There's more. If you feel like hitting the links, Island Cove miniature golf will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. Or for children and adults wishing to relive childhood joys, the Fourway Carriage House, marked with a 24-foot lighted tree, is ready for them. There are hands-on model trains - play the conductor, race them around the track.
At the Jirah Luce house there is a BYOB cocktail party from 5 p.m. to midnight. J.C. Jazz trio begins the night, followed by Michael Hayden, who plays vocal guitar, jazz and blues. Maynard Silva ends the night with a performance that begins at 9 p.m. He will break for the fireworks and then come back on to rock away the night hours with the Island blues.
C.W. Pyro, the company that does the Oak Bluffs fireworks, is setting the fireworks off this year from Eastville Beach. One of the event organizers, Tisbury Business Association president Jeff Kristal, said a good place to view them is along Beach Road toward the drawbridge, in the vicinity of the Black Dog, or the stretch of beach near the Steamship Authority ferry terminal.
This year, the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce - which organized the previous celebrations - asked the TBA to run the event.
"The chamber came to us and asked if we could help out and maybe take it over," Mr. Kristal said. "I said we'd do it on a trial basis.
"One of our conditions was to get rid of the First Night concept and do something safer for the kids and do something for the adults," he added. "It brings New Year's Eve back to the adults and New Year's Day is geared totally for the kids. It is basically 1 to 4 p.m. in daylight hours for the kids on New Year's Day."
First Day of the new year begins bright and early at E&E Deli. From 7 to 10 a.m. a pancake breakfast will be served. A button makes the breakfast an all-you-can-eat affair.
Marcus the Magician performs twice at the Katharine Cornell Theatre, from 11 a.m. to noon, and again at 1 p.m.
Coco the Clown performs at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian-Universalist Society, in a sing-along accompanied by pianist Bruce MacNelly.
One highlight of the day is the crazy hat parade which begins at noon at the ferry terminal. Anyone can make a hat from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the First Baptist Church or the Parish Hall. Supplies for the hats are donated by the Martha's Vineyard Community Services Thrift Shop.
One of the event organizers, Barbara Dupree, said, "We are hoping to make the crazy hat parade a tradition, with people working on their hats for months."
This year, adults may be lured to the parade by the opportunity to win some major prizes. Coco will lead the parade up Union street, along Main street and down past Bowl and Board. A panel of three judges will decide which adult wins a stay at a Marriott condominium or Cape Air tickets to Boston. Kids can win gift certificates from the Toy Box, Brickman's and The Fligors.
Miss Dupree said the celebration was never profit-making and some years they did not break even. In other words, it's two days of fun thanks to the contributions from Island and off-Island businesses and volunteers for the benefit of Islanders.
In past celebrations, events were held just on New Year's Eve. Miss Dupree said the change was for many reasons - including that New Year's Eve falls on a weekday on which many parents have to work. New Year's Day is a perfect time for parents to come out and enjoy a day of fun with their children if they could not do so the day before.
Also, by extending the celebration, it gives more Islanders a chance to attend the various events. According to Miss Dupree, tourism is not as large if the event falls on a weekday.
The "New Future" on the button also signifies the new future of the town itself. As residents move into the new year, they should keep on their minds the renovations sought by the TBA and the town Department of Public Works through the proposed Main Street Project - which aims to spruce up the town after the sewer work is done.
The new future speaks to the change in name, the change from one day to two, and ties in with the Main Street Project. After New Year's, the TBA will have 1,500 buttons for sale that say TBA on them instead of Last Night, First Day, to help defray a portion of the project cost. Mr. Kristal said they had a lot of Island sponsors this year. Vineyard businesses have already donated over $7,000.
"We are this little Island. You cannot just drive to the Island on a whim. We are figuring out the best way to spread it out to keep the restaurants busy, yet allow people to come to town and see different things. We didn't want to have just one or two things going on, we wanted to have a choice of things. There is enough going on around town to keep people busy. Then everything breaks for the fireworks," said Mr. Kristal.
Last year, some events attracted as many as 300 people, and more than 1,000 buttons were sold. "I hope many people will turn out because it is something new this year and it is spread out over two days," said Mr. Kristal.
According to Mr. Kristal, the fundraising covers all the cost.
Buttons can be purchased at the event and beforehand at the Chamber of Commerce, E&E Deli, Bunch of Grapes, Bickerton & Ripley, Aboveground Records, Alley's General Store and Our Market.