One shopkeeper says she senses more enthusiasm and gaiety among shoppers, and a local innkeeper appreciates the way people don’t seem to be rushing through the holidays. Interspersing shopping with caroling, tree lighting and concerts is what the Old Fashioned Christmas in Edgartown  program is all about, and organizer Fred Hurley reports that attendance at these events has been steady.

Mr. Hurley of the Kelley House has worked with members of the board of trade to schedule and promote the first annual Christmas program in Edgartown, by which the merchants hope to increase both on-Island shopping and Christmas spirit. “Shopping in Edgartown during the holiday season is far removed from the noise, crowds, and frantic pace found elsewhere,” states a brochure promoting the program.

Whether business in shops and inns actually increases won’t be known until after the festivities have wound to a close. As Claudia Bradford of Handworks notes, “Islanders are notoriously last-minute shoppers.”

Mrs. Bradford says that her business may be up a little from last year, but she hasn’t noticed that the promotional campaign has made much of a difference. But many of her Christmas sales take place in the summer when tourists buy ornaments and gifts, she says.

Carol Fligor reports that her business has been “notably increased,” but attributes some of the success to a pre-Christmas sale at The Fligors’. She says that more Island people are shopping early this year, but she has seen only the usual amount of strangers - or off-Islanders.

Reservations in local inns has not increased significantly, if the Kelley House and the Chadwick House are barometers of the business. Mr. Hurley told the board of trade on Dec. 8 that the Kelley House had the same number of reservations this year as last. Chadwick House proprietor Jean deLorenzon said this week: “We’ve had more business this year than last year,” but she added, “Actually, I think it’s kind of quiet.” Last weekend did not attract an unusual number of guests, she said, but they do have a long list of reservations for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Mrs. deLorenzon and her husband sponsored a Christmas Tea last Sunday, which about 30 people stopped in on. “People didn’t seem to hurry in and hurry out,” she said, “We got a good feeling from that.”

Also in the interest of community spirit, the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Preservation Society has organized a number of events at the Old Whaling Church, according to executive director Jane Tomassian.

Redhot and Blue, a singing group from Yale, nearly filled the 500-seat church, and a host of businesses contributed to the effort. Chicama Vineyards served wine during the intermission, and Bernard’s Greenhouse of Oak Bluffs bedecked the church with floral arrangements. Jon’s Taxi ferried the performers around, while accommodations were provided by the Point Way Inn, the Chadwick House and the Kelley House.

A different sort of musical program, also inviting community spirit, took place Sunday afternoon, during the Christmas caroling at the same church. About 125 carolers came to sing, including a sizable number of youngsters. “I was really surprised at the number of people who showed up,” commented Mrs. Tomassian.

In addition to sponsoring the carol sing, area churches are taking turns at serving Friday lunches at the Old Whaling Church, and Mr. Hurley said that the lunches may continue on a monthly basis. Today’s lunch, served from noon until 2 p.m., is the work of members of the Methodist church.

Other activities this weekend include a walking tour of inns and homes in town, wine tasting at Harborside Liquor Store, a Christmas movie at the Edgartown library, an old-fashioned Christmas cookie sale, a Sunday afternoon tea at the Charlotte Inn, and an ecumenical service for children on Christmas Eve. Of course, one cannot forget the concert Saturday evening at the Old Whaling Church, featuring the high school band, the Minnesingers and Nancy Rogers.

Even those who are too busy shopping at the last minute to stop in on these events will enjoy the festive store windows decorated by Claudia Canerdy and Carol Fligor.

The lengthy and elaborate program for Christmas in Edgartown was developed in meetings of the board of trade and its off-season promotional committee, at the suggestion of Mr. Hurley and Mrs. Tomassian. “It started very casually, just two people talking,” she explained. “It’s to get spirit back in town, which is sorely needed.”