Patriotism Sets Tone for Island Fourth of July

Huge Parade Is Set; Fireworks to Follow


Almost 10 months after Sept. 11, patriotism will bloom fully on the Vineyard this Thursday as Edgartown invites all Islanders and visitors to its annual Fourth of July parade and fireworks at nightfall.

Parade grand marshal and Edgartown selectman Fred B. Morgan Jr. said the September terrorist attacks have brought out this year "more interest, more participation and more patriotism."

A drive around the Island reveals telltale signs that the celebration for the country's birthday has arrived in full force. More American flags are waving in the breeze and red, white and blue decorations are fastened on an increasing number of fences and posts; there are even large patriotic displays on a few lawns.

Island hotels, air carriers and the Steamship Authority report that a typically large crowd will flock to the Island for the holiday. The Edgartown harbor master's office reports that all the moorings in the harbor are booked for the week.

Dick McClellan, general manager of Edgartown's Harbor View Hotel and Kelley House, said his facilities' combined 180 rooms are fully booked from Wednesday through the weekend.

The Edgartown parade, which dates back more than 50 years, begins at 5 p.m., but there are a handful of things to do in town beforehand, as spectators of all ages get ready for the always fun-filled evening coupled with a time of observance.

There is a holiday barbecue from 4 to 8 p.m. on the lawn of the Dr. Daniel Fisher House, located on Main street in Edgartown next to the Old Whaling Church. Ticket sales for the event benefit the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust. Fella Caterers will run a concession where people can order hot dogs and hamburgers, said Janet Heath, the trust's director of special events.

The lawn is a great place from which to watch the Edgartown Fourth of July Parade as it comes by, she said.

There is the annual sale of lobster rolls - along with iced tea and chips - from noon to 6 p.m. on the lawn of St. Elizabeth's Church on Main street. At the other end of town, the Harbor View Hotel on North Water street hosts its annual barbecue for hotel guests and parade viewers.

Mr. Morgan will be out before the start of the parade lining up participants at the Edgartown School. Uniformed veterans will lead the parade as usual, followed by Island firefighters and police officers.

Also parading through downtown will be antique cars, floats, children riding decorated bikes, historic tour companies leading a group of men, women and children adorned in revolutionary garb, Jabberwocky campers bedecked in their usual Independence Day fashion and many more.

The veterans will lead the parade along Pease's Point Way, wrap around toward the Harbor View Hotel, and continue down North Water street to Main. The parade will travel up Main street, the last section of the journey, and pass a reviewing stand outside the Old Whaling Church decorated in red, white and blue.

When the parade concludes, the celebration will begin once again at nightfall - around 9 p.m. - with the fire department-sponsored launching of fireworks from a barge anchored just off Lighthouse Beach.

The town's police department will shut down all of North Water street and lower Main street to vehicular traffic around 8 p.m., providing people with prime standing room for the spectacular display.

Boaters can secure the best seats in the house by anchoring just outside the harbor.

To clear the way for the festivities, Edgartown police chief Paul Condlin said Main street parking is banned from 3 p.m. until the end of the fireworks, and cars are not allowed to travel down Main street starting at 4:30 p.m. Also, between 3 and 5 p.m., a section of Pine Hurst Road will be closed to cars except for residents.

For those opting for public transportation, the downtown Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority bus will make its last stop on Church street at 4:15 p.m. The bus will then make its stops by the Dukes County Jail. By parade time, the bus will make its stops at Main and Cooke streets at the head of Cannonball Park.

Chief Condlin said elderly and handicap parking for the parade is allowed on Pine street; an officer will be on hand to direct. For the fireworks, the elderly and handicap parking is located at the parking lot by the Edgartown Yacht Club.

Chief Condlin advised people who are heading into town to walk or bike if possible or take public transportation. For parade participants, he said, parking at the school is limited this year due to construction - he advises carpooling or public buses.