The National Basketball Association champion stood tall on an old red fire truck and gripped his golden trophy in the air. Screams and cheers erupted from the crowds lining the road as the fire truck slowly rolled along the parade route in downtown Edgartown.
In town on vacation, Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen slapped and shook hands reaching up from the crowd Friday, his presence a memorable twist on a Fourth of July tradition already marked by excitement.
“Ray! I love you Ray!” Matthew Schechter cried, jumping up and down outside Island Breeze on Main street.
“That was the loudest I’ve yelled in a while,” the Northeastern student said after Mr. Allen passed. “I celebrated more just now than the night they won.”
There were other stars in the parade. Their reception, slightly quieter, still evoked the feeling that these were heroes in the community.
One of those people was Antone Rezendes Sr., an 89-year-old World War II veteran, who smiled from a motorcycle sidecar while his daughter Cheryl Metell drove down the street. Mrs. Metell’s dachshund, Vera, peeked out her head from a basket in the back.
“Usually she rides in the sidecar,” Mrs. Metell said of her dog before the parade. “But today, my dad has the seat of honor.”
Onlookers maneuvered on sidewalks for a better view. Children searched for candy hidden among the colorful pieces of confetti that blanketed the ground. People sat on stoops and lawn chairs, nodding to the music of the passing floats.
The chefs at Chesca’s watched the procession from the stairs behind the restaurant, able to pause from work because their customers were outside as well.
But from the perspective of those on floats, the parade was an entirely different experience. A reporter saw this for a portion of the parade as he helped the counselors at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort peddle a six-person circular bicycle they called the scooter bug.
The participant in a parade, no matter their position in the community, is the center of it all, if only for a second. Faces erupt with smiles as you wave to them. Children squeal at your generous gifts of candy. Each turn around a corner brings a new surge of applause from another mass of people. At the Harbor View Hotel, beach balls bounced above the crowd and people cheered from the packed porch. Naturally a six-person circular bicycle drew plenty of quizzical looks and remarks of, “Oh honey, look at that!”
It was a small taste of what it must be like to be a kilt-clad bagpipe player in the Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard or a Viking impersonator aboard the float of the Edgartown Yacht Club. Or what it must be like for the counselors and campers of parade favorite Camp Jabberwocky, which again was rated the parade’s best float.
Their theme, to celebrate the camp’s 55th anniversary, was Camp Jabberwocky through the ages. A cardboard 1953 Cadillac attached to wheelchairs represented the fifties, and behind that hippies, disco dancers, punk rockers and boy bands portrayed the eras of the next half-century.
Before the parade, the members of the Jabberwocky float assembled with everyone else at Edgartown School. A Yoko Ono impersonator turned to her friend and asked “Whoa, what are you?”
Jason St. Amour, a volunteer dressed in a purple wig, matching pants, a boa and a tuxedo shirt, replied, “I’m Prince.” He admitted moments later that he looked nothing like the pop star: “Yeah, I’m a little off.”
On the other side of the parking lot, antique cars pulled into their spots. George Hartman taped flags to his World War II U.S. Army jeep. He explained that years ago, 10 or so Army jeeps would come to the parade and ride in a row, most filled with World War II vets.
“Then gradually there were less and less,” said Hartman, who has driven his jeep in parades for 15 years. “Now I think I’m the last that comes in here.”
At the Vineyard Assembly of God float, Jordan Roquemore and his friends banged out a beat on upside-down trash cans. “Just something we thought would be cool,” he said, holding big sticks wrapped with masking tape. “Get everybody’s attention.”
It was an effective technique, for in the land of the parade, the loudest float is king. Horns, drums, bagpipes, rock bands, and muskets would compete for the next hour-and-a-half for the attention of the watching crowds.
Then, like a summer storm sweeping through town, the parade was done, leaving officials relieved and exhausted.
Lieut. Tony Bettencourt sat in the Edgartown police’s mobile command unit after the parade. He relaxed in his chair.
“Things went perfect,” he said. “It was pretty quiet.”
It looked as if he had gone through a marathon to be able to say that.
“I feel relieved,” parade organizer Fred B. (Ted) Morgan Jr. said when it was over. “Another year, another parade under your belt, and if people enjoyed it, that’s all I care about.”
In the time between the parade and the fireworks, families packed into ice cream shops or met for cook-outs.
At a dinner on Water street, Carolyn Connors was still a little shaken up from the parade. To celebrate her and her husband John’s 50th anniversary, her grandchildren had marched down the street holding large posters featuring Mr. and Mrs. Connors on their wedding day. It was a surprise planned by her children, and had the intended effect on Mrs. Connors.
“I was shocked,” she said. She lifted her hand to show how it was lightly shaking. “I’m just starting to calm down, actually.”
Then came the fireworks, which colored the night over Edgartown harbor. Crowds moved down to the beach. Across the water, a city of lights formed as boats pulled up for the closest possible view.
Some fireworks fell like golden weeping willows, others darted back and forth like tracer bullets. In between explosions, the crowd clapped and chorused oohs and ahhs. One man yelled, “Happy birthday, America!”
The display continued for almost half an hour, the continuous explosions creating a black cloud that at times blocked the view. Pieces of ash fell on the beach, and a front-row seat came at the risk of getting a little bit of the display in the eye.
When the last of the blasts ended, people exited Edgartown en masse, carrying their lawn chairs and blankets to their cars parked far away. Just another Fourth of July in America.