“Forward, march!” he commanded for the 43rd year, and the parade began its journey down the West Tisbury Road.

All eyes in Edgartown were on Col. Fred B. (Ted) Morgan Jr., as he performed his last march as grand marshal and chief organizer of the Edgartown Fourth of July parade.

He marched upright, as always, in perfect time with the drumbeat, while spectators shouted in appreciation from the sidelines. “Let’s go, Ted!” “Alright, Ted!” “Yeah, Mr. Morgan,” they cheered.

“That’s Ted, it’s his last year,” a woman informed her friend. Sometimes he let out a shy smile, a slight wave or a salute in recognition of their cheers. Then he would turn to march backward, hand cupped over his eyes to shield the sun, to check on the progress of the parade behind him.

“It’s a great day for a parade,” he had declared in the parking lot of the Edgartown School, as floats tied up loose ends and friends wished him well. “I just feel like I’ve always felt. I don’t get nervous anymore.”

Mr. Morgan is passing the torch to American Legion member Joseph E. Sollitto Jr., who will serve as grand marshal in the coming years. Mr. Sollitto has helped organize the parade since 1990, and has participated in the parade since the 1970s.“It’s time for someone else to take over,” Mr. Morgan said.

But Mr. Morgan will be back, parade organizers say. “He is just saying it’s his last year,” said Al Noyes, who has served as parade co-chairman for many years. “He’ll still be in the parade, and he’ll be out here making sure we do the right thing.”

Parade participants are eager to praise Mr. Morgan, who they see as an invaluable asset to the town of Edgartown.

“He’s always gotten everyone organized in Bristol fashion,” said Ned Brooks, commodore of the Edgartown Yacht Club, who has participated in the parade since 1956. “He knows how to pull the levers of power to get everyone lined up right.”

“He’s an inspiration for anyone, one of the greatest of our generation,” said Herb Foster, friend and fellow World War II veteran.

Frank Dunkl, president of the Vineyard Haven Band, has been working with Ted for about 40 years. As a leader, Mr. Morgan is “experienced, very kind, very gentle, well-organized and disciplined,” Mr. Dunkl said. “He has all the organizational skills without rubbing anybody the wrong way. He puts things together in a way that it just clicks so nice.”

And it’s hard to praise Mr. Morgan without praising the parade itself, which he’s organized for so many years. “This parade is a piece of America that’s special to all of us who’ve grown up here, and visitors alike,” Mr. Brooks said. “It represents the wholesomeness of the small town that’s so important to America.”

Much of the Island looks forward to it every year. “I can’t wait for the next one,” Mr. Foster said. “Everyone is included, which means that everyone owns it.”

“[The parade] is professional, it’s fun, and it’s punctual,” said Cape and Islands state Rep. Timothy Madden, after awarding Mr. Morgan a citation from the Massachusetts house of Representatives recognizing his “43 years of dedication, commitment and service to your community as ‘organizer extraordinaire’ for the July 4th parade in Edgartown.”

The citation was signed by Mr. Madden and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, “This is the best parade there is in New England,” Representative Madden told Mr. Morgan before the parade started. “Joe’s got some big shoes to fill,” he said. “It’s really been a pleasure.”