When the clock on the Old Whaling Church strikes 5 p.m. on the Fourth of July, you can bet the annual Edgartown Fourth of July parade will be underway.
No matter that longtime grand marshal Fred B. Morgan Jr., a stickler for punctuality, has passed the torch to Joseph E. Sollitto Jr. Not much will change, least of all the prompt start.
“In my mind, Ted is still in charge,” Mr. Sollitto, the Dukes County Superior Court clerk, said from his office this week. “Colonel Morgan is still in charge.”
There are tasks that come with organizing the parade, Mr. Sollitto said, holding up a typed list of things to do.
He’s met with Police Chief Antone Bettencourt and Sgt. Craig Edwards about heightened security this year — the parade route will be closed to traffic at 3 p.m. sharp, and any unattended bags or coolers left along the route will be removed immediately.
Boat reservations have been made for the bands, and Mr. Sollitto has purchased string to hang signs. He came to the selectmen’s meeting Monday to formally invite them to the parade and ask them to judge the floats — a $1,000 cash prize is at stake. He also issued a plea for convertibles to carry the selectmen and veterans who are unable to march.
He praised town administrator assistant Kristy Rose for her help in wrangling the participants.
And Mr. Morgan is still very much involved, dropping by Mr. Sollitto’s second floor office in the courthouse Tuesday morning to discuss how things are going. Where is the sign for the state representative, which should be in the basement of the American Legion?
The two discussed a bugaboo of parade organizers: too much space between the participants. This year, as part of security measures, they’ll be asked to keep it moving.
Not that Mr. Morgan is worried. “Joe is very well qualified,” Mr. Morgan said .”He’s been through this . . . he’s going to do just fine.”
Mr. Sollitto does have some experience with the parade. He’s been marching since 1972, starting with the Boys Club and now leading the way in his Marine Corps uniform. (The parade is one of the few days of the year Mr. Sollitto is seen in Edgartown without his signature bowtie.)
Come the Fourth of July, the reviewing stand will be assembled and parade participants will be lined up. Crowds will inevitably line the streets, and Mr. Sollitto and Mr. Morgan, who served with the Air Force in World War II, will be in uniform together to start the parade and walk a now familiar route. There will be crowds and flags and fireworks, just as there have been every year since 1956, when the modern day parade began.
The parade will start at 5 p.m. on the dot, and fireworks are at dusk on the harbor.
Toward the end of the nearly two-mile route is the time when it all becomes real, Mr. Sollitto said. Turning from North Water street onto Main street, it’s “wall to wall people,” he said. “It’s America.”
Parking for the Fourth of July parade will be available at the town parking lot at Dark Woods Road, with trolley service to the Main street area. Handicapped parking will be available after 7 p.m. at the Yacht Club parking lot. The town warns of traffic delays and road closures starting at 3 p.m. and lasting until about 11 p.m.