The Fourth of July parade Sunday was bigger, better, earlier.
The early part was an accident. At 4:55 p.m., parade marshal Fred B. Morgan Jr. said, he urged a segment of the parade to stand in front of the gathering ground, the Edgartown School on the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road, and he coached them to move forward. But through a misunderstanding, the marchers kept going, heading to town.
"They took off. I had to run up and get in front of them" to get to his spot at the front of the march, said Mr. Morgan.
Thousands lined the streets of Edgartown to view the Vineyard's hometown tribute to summer and the nation's birthday. The parade, including cars, tractors, boats, trucks and two airplanes, stretched for more than two miles, and took 90 minutes to wind its way to the reviewing stand on Main street.
The drama, as in past years, was in the details.
As the marchers made their slow way through the streets, spectators got a feel of what is important to the life and spirit of the Island community.
If they were attentive, they learned that patriotism is alive and well. Children love to wave flags as much as they love to eat candy.
They were reminded that boaters should wear their life jackets out on the water. That message was carried by Sail Martha's Vineyard, a nonprofit organization committed to teaching Island young people to sail.
And they saw again that Camp Jabberwocky remains one of the Island's most enjoyable summer camps, as shown by their theme this year, celebrating affiliated camps in Mississippi and Los Angeles. The extensive display included dozens of dancers, a fleet of bicycles and wheelchairs, a gigantic catfish rolling on wheels, waving fins and whiskers.
Margaret Serpa, chairman of the board of selectmen, said: "People ask me, ‘Why does Camp Jabberwocky win the best float every year?' It is because they always put so much into what they do."
Mike Donaroma, selectman and co-judge of the parade, said: "Camp Jabberwocky is a great asset to the Fourth of July."
The MacKenty family's annual entry was a 1946 Model H Farmall tractor from Ashakomaksett Farm on the shores of Edgartown Great Pond, driven by Billy MacKenty, pulling a hay wagon loaded with flag-waving youngsters.
The Martha's Vineyard Boys' and Girls' Club brought their best athletes to the parade; the traveling basketball girls team tried to make shots into a basket as the float rolled.
Robert (Max) Maxwell, a trombone player from Edgartown, shared the back of a pickup truck with Alex Huth, a tenor sax player from West Tisbury, and Jackie Maitland, a flutist from Houston; they were, they said, members of the Vineyard Haven Band who because of space reasons weren't able to fit together with their colleagues on the Donaroma float. Still, they had their sheet music and were carrying the tunes. The truck was driven by Maury Dore, coowner of Edgartown Marine Associates. "I've been a parade driver for 20 years. When I am not having to tow the float, I am hauling boats," Mr. Dore said.
Vineyard Peace Council marched in the parade, as they have for years. The Rev. Alden Besse of Vineyard Haven said the council's main point was that "making peace is patriotic."
Henry King, 80, of Edgartown has been in the parade since 1972, a personal ritual. For many years he has driven the Edgartown Inn's 1931 Woody, an antique car festively decorated with small flags. After suffering a stroke in May, he wasn't driving this year. "But I am here," he said, sitting in the passenger seat. Peter Hakala was driving.
Dr. Joe Murray, 85, of Chappaquiddick was dressed for duty and in full World War II military garb. Wearing his original U.S. Army Medical Corp uniform, the doctor was a passenger in the World War II veterans' vehicle.
There were two airplanes.
Mark Hess and his wife, Kelly, of Edgartown sat in their vehicle and towed a brilliant red toy wooden biplane. On board as pilots were their sons Owen, five, and Warner, three. Mrs. Hess said the ride was significant this year: "I don't think they [the youngsters] will fit in the plane next year." Mr. Hess built the toy two years ago.
Angel Flight Inc. received an award for most original entry in the parade. An impressive white plane was towed by pilot Joe Costa; every once in a while the propeller started spinning. The float drew attention to the nonprofit organization that provides free flights to patients suffering from serious injuries or illness and requiring transportation to a medical facility. In the pilot's seat was five-year-old Noah White.
A convertible driven by Jamie Curtis won the most patriotic float award. Mr. Donaroma said: "That vehicle was plastered with red, white and blue. There were umbrellas and American flags. That choice was easy."
Ten-year-old Haley Krauss of Edgartown was dressed as Betsy Ross, the seamstress who legend has it made the first American flag. "This is a tribute to our country," she said.
Spectators Leo McCloskey and his wife, Sarah, of Plymouth arrived early on North Water street to see the parade. They got their seat in front of the Colonial Inn at 3:30 p.m.
Ron Domurat of Edgartown and his wife, Barbara, also arrived that early to get their seat on a bench in front of the library.
Next to them stood Colin Nygren, 11, of Harvard who was wearing a "shiner." Mr. Nygren said he got his black eye at the skate park in Oak Bluffs the day before.
Dick and Jessica Ojtukiewicz of Chappaquiddick and New Ipswich, N.H., were seated on the brick sidewalk farther up the street. "I wouldn't miss this for the world. The Island does it right," he said.
Mr. Donaroma said after the parade he was amazed at how Mr. Morgan managed to bring it all together. "I have no idea how he pulls it off," he said.