On the day that America celebrated its independence, and that Edgartown held the big parade, another kind of parade streamed through the tiny avenues of the Camp Ground in Oak Bluffs; a tetherball tournament entertained employees of the Vineyard Yacht Club; and, by night, post-fireworks revelers flocked to Circuit avenue, sidestepping the blobs of melted ice cream left behind by toddlers before their bedtime.

It was a warm and sunny weekend, until rains came Monday afternoon; and the Vineyard took full advantage.


A Children's Parade


The best part of the Seventh Annual Children's Fourth of July Parade in the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground? "We get to break the rules," said nine-year-old Andrew Bontemps, by biking on paths usually reserved for walking.

Mr. Bontemps had a point, but bikes were just the beginning: Scooters, roller-blades, tricycles, strollers, parents' arms and carts served as vehicles for the 90 or so children (plus a couple of dogs).

Seven years ago, the Children's Fourth of July Parade consisted of 18 people from two families walking one block, banging on pots and pans. This was the biggest year yet, said one of the founding mothers Gretchen Rehak.

"We're just going to sit here and watch," said one woman, speaking for the parents, teenagers and elderly onlookers sitting on porches up and down Clinton avenue, gazing out over the chaotic swarm of kids preparing for the parade.

Bob Falkenburg, who manages the Cottage Museum Shop, and his wife, Jodie, launched the parade, riding regally on a golf cart decked out in red, white and blue. The marching band, composed of middle-aged volunteer musicians (including a washboard player wearing bells around his knees) followed close on their heels. When one father started to hum along with the marching band, his daughter pointed to the tuba player and said commandingly, "Daddy, you don't need to sing! They have a trumpet!"


Wearing Their Colors


Fake eyelashes, shiny wigs and temporary tattoos all made appearances in the children's parade.

Dramatic red, white and blue body paint colored the faces and arms of Hunter French, 10, and Mitchell Renfrew, 11. Eleven-year-old Jack Rogers - seven-time parade veteran and son of another founding mother Pam Rogers - wore a shirt his mother tie-dyed blue and red. Sisters Natalie and Isabel McNeill, ages nine and four, had red, white and blue stuffed animals taped to their scooters. Peter McClain, three, was wrapped in his great-grandmother's Fourth of July apron. Lily McCarron, five, rode in an old shopping cart pulled by her father, which she referred to as her "carriage." Another girl sat in a wagon with a pot of blue flowers. A baby in a stroller chewed on a small American flag.

But the parade soon encountered problems in the form of speed bumps and a turnstile. Its unified front was scattered after a few hundred yards. Unable to hear the marching band, a contingent of girls in the back began to sing independently.

Upon her arrival at the Cottage Museum, the last stop on the parade route, Kalyn Valencia, 10, celebrated by writing "USA" across her arm several times with a marker.

When the baskets of candy came out, the Fourth of July banner was dropped by its young bearers and almost trampled underfoot before a quick-thinking dad lifted it away from the enthusiastic crowd.


Tetherball Breaks Out


Meghan Decourcey, 24, and Eric Deichmann, 21, both employees of the Vineyard Haven Yacht club, found a new toy this weekend.

Thanks to a gift from a member, the yacht club put up a new tetherball poll on Friday. The game has been a big hit, especially with the staff.

"I love tetherball," said Ms. Decourcey. "When I used to live in Arizona, all they played was tetherball, because it was too hot to play anything else."

Ms. Decourcey's experience paid off. She defeated Mr. Deichmann three games in a row.

"I learned something about tetherball today," said Mr. Deichmann. "It's hard."




With kids cruising the beachfront in bikinis and board-shorts, South Beach overflowed with teenage activity. Small airplanes landing at the Katama Air Strip flew overhead, while beachgoers dodged flying paddle balls and footballs from the many people playing some form of catch.

An adventurous young man dove chest-first into the water to catch a pass thrown by a former football player. Despite the splash, he emerged with his fingers clenched firmly around the laces. His friends cheered the completion.

Late on Sunday afternoon, just before the Edgartown parade, the Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach thinned out. Families toweled off their children and packed up their coolers.

Weslie Turner, 16, spent time there with her sister Candice Turner, 13, and her cousin Randi Guscott, six. On the Vineyard for a week from Boston, they said they enjoyed lounging on the beach, but usually brought a few more activities with them, like kites and boogie boards.

After a day spent at the beach, the three looked forward to a cookout with their family, then some long days at their favorite boogie boarding spot in Aquinnah.


Recording It All


In the afternoon, James O'Brien, 24, of the Bronx, stood on the sand at State Beach in his gray swimming trunks, pointing a camcorder at the water. In the viewing window, a woman's head bobbed up and down in the surf.

"That's my girlfriend in the water over there," he said. "We're students in the city and we're here for the Fourth of July."

He and Natalie Homola, also of the Bronx, were staying at the family campground in West Tisbury.

Mr. O'Brien said that he was using the camcorder to document their trip.

"It's really a great place," he said.


Night Circuit


At 10:30 Saturday night, groups of girls wandered up and down Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs wearing miniskirts and tank tops, simultaneously looking and not looking at the loitering boys. Families ordered their last ice creams. Toddlers accidentally dropped their cones on the sidewalk. Two pit bulls watched the action from the bench where their owner sat.

But whatever Fourth of July eve energy may have been pulsing on Circuit avenue, inside the Offshore Alehouse, it was all about rock 'n' roll; John Barleycorn and the Social Drinkers were at it again.

"We're going to rock your pants off now," lead singer Sean George warned, introducing the song She Runs Herself Down. The band was already drenched in sweat.

Mr. George launched the song by repeatedly slamming his leg into the floor. Guitarist Jesse Wiener delivered a string-breaking guitar solo that brought him to his knees. "This boy is rocking too hard, so we're going to douse him in water," Mr. George explained, and proceeded to do so.

The musicians were so tuned to one another that as they bobbed up and down it seemed they were one creature.

Especially on the song Woman's Brew. Mr. George - who donned his mechanics outfit over his Blues Brothers shirt for this number - danced with a beautiful dark-haired girl standing by the stage. His earthy, soulful voice penetrated all corners of the room.

At one point, an unidentified bearded man joined Mr. George at the microphone. Proving itself a band that can roll with anything, John Barleycorn and the Social Drinkers embraced the impromptu performance - literally. Mr. Young gave the singer a huge hug at the end of the song.


"Thanks to all the crazies who come up on stage," Mr. George said.

At the end of the show, Mr. George got down on his knees and bowed to the band.


Smiling and Humming Along


Over at Season's Pub, bouncers thoroughly checked IDs as throngs of people waited outside the door. It was one of the least-crowded doorways on Circuit avenue, where police officers patrolled on foot and security guards for a neighboring bar tried to keep their patrons on the sidewalks and out of the street.

People ordered drinks at the bar and a guitarist belted out favorite covers. ESPN blared, replaying the Serena Williams upset at Wimbledon. At the start of Sweet Caroline, a group of friends sitting at the front of the stage stood up and joined in the singing, linking their arms and swaying.

Two young women made a toast with their margaritas in hand when the singer, clad in a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt, began an upbeat rendition of Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. They seemed to know the song but could not remember the words, so they only smiled and hummed along.

Closet country fans came out of the woodwork to join in Garth Brooks's Friends in Low Places.


Closing Notes


After the fireworks, Brad Tilden, 24, and Richard Dobrowski, 29, arrived at Martha's Vineyard Gourmet & Bakery in Oak Bluffs moments too late to satisfy their hunger. They found times have changed.

"We're very sorry," said Janice Casey, turning the men away. "We now close at 12:30 a.m. It's a police bylaw that is now being enforced."

Reporting for this article was contributed by Helen Phillips, Anna Galan and Coley Ward.