Organizers of Last Night, First Day, the Island's own New Years celebration, were feeling good about their success yesterday. Valerie Richards, executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, said: "I was thrilled. The turnout for most of the events was fabulous. The fireworks were fabulous. Whoever parted the clouds and the fog deserve a great thanks."
The Vineyard's celebration of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, sponsored this year by the Tisbury Ambulance Association, was by all descriptions exactly what the Island wanted.
Scott Gerstmar, president of the ambulance association, had plenty of reason to be happy. "Everywhere I went," he said, "there were people having a great time."
As many as 30 volunteers worked at locations across Vineyard Haven which offered entertainment Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
The celebration involved more than 20 events in all. There was J.C. & Danny Wright Jazz Trio and Maynard Silva and his band performing at the Hebrew Center, the Vineyard Belly Dance and Review at the Unitarian-Universalist Society and the WIMP comedy troupe performing to a full house at the Katharine Cornell Theatre.
The E&E Delicatessen was a great center for music. Tristan Israel and Dave Corcoran performed, as did the Flying Elbows Band and John Barleycorn and the Social Drinkers. And punctuating it all was a show of fireworks at 9 p.m. on New Year's Eve.
"That was the best fireworks show that Tisbury has ever seen," said Jeff Kristal, president of the Tisbury Business Association. "We were all nervous all day long." The day began with rain. In the afternoon, fog settled over parts of the Island. But by nightfall, the weather shifted. Clouds parted and the stars came out at 8 p.m. The temperature was in the high 40s, making the display one of the more comfortable fireworks shows ever at the end of December.
CR Pyrotechnics provided the show from Eastville Beach in Oak Bluffs, near the Lagoon Pond bridge, and the first fireworks started climbing into the air almost precisely at 9 p.m. The grand show lasted for 22 minutes, drawing cheers from folks lined up along Beach Road.
All the venues were well attended, said Mr. Kristal.
On New Year's Day, most programs were aimed at the youngest of celebrants. Coco the Clown performed at the Unitarian-Universalist Society late in the morning, singing a range of fun children's songs.
After a creative crafts workshop, children wore their artwork in the Crazy Hat Parade, a tradition of this Island celebration.
"I've already heard that the turnout was better than last year," said Ms. Richards. An ambulance led the parade. Marching behind the ambulance were The Great Benafuchi, on stilts, and Coco, the clown. At the Steamship Authority parking lot, the parade's end point, was a display of fire trucks, an ambulance - even a postal truck for the children to explore.
Well into the afternoon, children and their parents could be seen on Main street wearing their parade hats.
Mr. Gerstmar said the success of the celebration goes beyond marking the end of one year and the beginning of another. "This was very helpful for the ambulance association," he said. "It helps us raise awareness of the role that our emergency medical technicians play in this community year-round." A good percentage of the volunteers involved at the different venues were EMTs. "It was a lot of fun for us," he said.
Ms. Richards said the feedback coming back is looking good for everyone and she had praise for its key organizers. "Jeff Pratt, the Tisbury ambulance coordinator, and Jeff Kristal did a great job pulling this together. I am really looking forward to supporting the ambulance association in the future. They deserve a huge thank you. A lot of businesses came forward to support them."
While not all the numbers have been totaled, Ms. Richards said organizers are already talking about next year.