They rode on creatively crafted floats, walked, danced, rollerbladed and drove antique cars, trucks and bicycles.
Children raced to collect candy hurled into the streets. Fire trucks sprayed water to cool down the crowd.
And by 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, the streets of downtown Edgartown were littered with debris and the Fourth of July parade was declared a great success. One day earlier Hurricane Arthur had passed by the Island. But this debris was of another sort: leftover candy pieces, paper flyers and plastic bead necklaces from the annual parade, which draws a throng of thousands.
This year was no different despite the fact that the parade had turned into to a one-day belated celebration of America’s independence after Edgartown officials and parade grand marshal Joseph E. Sollitto Jr. decided to postpone it due to the impending storm. Mr. Sollitto said it was the first time in his 42 years of marching that the event had been postponed.
As he paced around the Edgartown School parking lot late Saturday afternoon, where rows of floats and marchers lined up in preparation for the parade, he knew the decision he made was the right one.
“There’s a nice breeze blowing out and we’re going to have fun!” Mr. Sollitto declared, moments before he joined Island veterans to lead the parade onto the first stretch of Main street.
Fred B. Morgan Jr., who led the parade as grand marshal for 43 years before passing his baton Mr. Sollitto last year, agreed.
“Everyone’s happy to be here, happy to participate. It’s a great day with great weather. I couldn’t ask for anything else,” he said.
The the festively decorated trucks and marching troupes representing various Island organizations made their way downtown. Crowds lined the streets — in some places up to six rows deep. Red, white, and blue were staples of all spectator attire, even for dogs. The sun shone brightly and spirits were high.
While marchers revealed artfully created floats, many of which took weeks to assemble, young children had fun testing out various candy-catching techniques. Fishing nets, upturned bicycle helmets, plastic buckets and recycled grocery bags were all put to good use.
Children aboard the floats threw candy to their counterparts in the streets. Elliot Chapman, a 10 year old from Arlington, rode aboard the All-Island Pest Management truck, alongside a giant inflatable rat.
“I like handing out candy because I like the feeling of all the happy people receiving these things,” he said. “It feels so nice.”
Crowd favorites included Camp Jabberwocky, whose campers were transformed into citizens of Whoville, Cats in the Hat and star-bellied sneetches this year aboard the Dr. Suess-themed truck. The traditional parade of Island fire trucks sounded their horns and sprayed water from fire hoses for children to play in toward the end. The Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ and Girls’ Club van had a basketball net fixed to the back, and marchers and people on the street took turns shooting hoops as the van rolled by. As the van turned from North Water street to Main street, someone handed a basketball to Edgartown Police Chief Antone Bettencourt. The chief easily made a basket.
The Newes from America staffers rode old-fashioned tan bikes. The Martha’s Vineyard Adventure Camp marched with miniature horses. There were festively decorated antique cars.
Johanna Romero de Slavy, a director of Camp Jabberwocky, reflected on what it means for members of the camp community to participate in the parade. “It really brings them all together,” she said. “It’s something to look forward to. It’s one of our biggest highlights of the summer.”
A few hours later as night fell, the Fourth of July fireworks display lit up the sky over the Edgartown harbor.
Prizes for floats were as follows:
Best Float, Camp Jabberwocky, Special Prize, Martha’s Vineyard Little League, Most Patriotic, Martha’s Vineyard Youth Hockey, Most Original, Rotary Club of Martha’sVineyard.