On no other summer afternoon would there be so many empty parking spaces in downtown Edgartown, But the annual Fourth of July parade was about to begin and roads were closed to traffic in the village. Crowds gathered on porches and lined sidewalks, many toting lawn and beach chairs. On North Water street, families hosted cocktail gatherings on front lawns. Generations were gathered to celebrate America’s Independence Day in high spirits.

Main street crowd cheers on the marchers. — Sara Brown

Fuller street had traded cars for chalk drawings made by hordes of small children. Sidewalks resembled a crowded bazaar. In the final moments before the parade began, a stream of tourists speaking a flurry of languages biked down the street.

And then the first float sailed by.

Dancers with The Yard perform. — Maria Thibodeau

The parade was led by veterans in uniform, including Fred B. (Ted) Morgan Jr., the former parade grand marshal and a World War II veteran. At parts of the parade, his grandson, Edgartown police Lieut. Chris Dolby, rode next to him on a police bike. Then came new parade grand marshal Joseph E. Sollitto Jr. in his brown U.S. Marine Corps uniform. Mr. Sollitto and others had been carefully watching the weather forecasts, which at time called for rain at parade time. But just before 5 p.m., cloudy skies gave way and the parade started in summer sunshine, police officers clearing the way for the parade marchers and drummers keeping the beat.

The Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club, following tradition, had a basketball net on the back of their float, which was a tribute to the 40th anniversary of Jaws. The top of their van, which was labeled Amity Boys & Girls Club, of course, carried a replica of the Orca. Grace Episcopal Church gave a nod to their popular summertime offering with a large lobster roll on their float, and the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Soccer team, players sporting their purple and black jerseys, kicked soccer balls along the route. Another float depicted a large Clifford the Big Red Dog, who was wearing a collar that said “Thanks Mr. Bridwell!” Clifford’s creator, Edgartown resident Norman Bridwell died in December.

Fireworks cap off the patriotic festivities. — Maria Thibodeau

Great quantities of candy were thrown from nearly every float, to the delight of children. It was collected in buckets, fishing nets and Vineyard Gazette paper press caps, handed out by the newspaper from its vintage red truck in the parade.

“He loves going to the parade. It’s kind of a ruckus because all the kids converge on the candy,” said Adam Looney of his two-and-a-half-year-old son, Sam. Mr. Looney and his family host a parade party at their Fuller street home every year. “Accepting candy from strangers — it’s like everything we taught them didn’t matter,” one parent said.“ Sam also collected counterfeit $1 million bills that were handed out by the Edgartown National Bank.

Rising Tide equestrian therapeutic center won for best float. — Maria Thibodeau

In the afternoon, prior to the start of the parade, cars, buses and flatbed trailers snaked around the Edgartown School parking lot. “We won most original!” shouted a fairy in a rainbow tutu as Camp Jabberwocky got their convoy of floats in a row. Storybook characters from tales like Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast danced and twirled in place as the campers and counselors lined up to start. Leading the campers was a fairy tower float, complete with Rapunzel and her golden hair, and a small army of drummers led by Rick Bausman of the Drum Workshop.

Police and public safety were out in full force. In addition to officers and firemen marching in the parade, policemen from all across the Island from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown were on duty. “The departments have an agreement for these big events to all pitch in a few guys and help out,” said Chilmark police officer Jonathan Klaren. “And this is pretty big.”

Grand marshal Joseph E. Sollitto prepares to lead the parade onto Main street. — Sara Brown

Main street businesses threw their doors open to the crowds. “For us it is like a reunion,” said Summer Shades manager Sarah McDonnell. Nearby, Edgartown Books sold out of its patriotic pinwheels and bracelets well before the parade began.

There were an array of prizes for floats. Rising Tide Therapeutic Equestrian Center, which created a ethereal white horse with wings flying high above its float, won Best Float while Camp Jabberwocky took home the award for Most Original.

The Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard won a special prize for its well-crafted depiction of a train car from the Cottage City and Katama Railroad. As the parade made its way down North Water street, rotarian Liz Villard reminded the crowd that Cottage City is the former name of Oak Bluffs.

Americans weren’t the only ones celebrating. Brazilian-born Marcos Ehmann observed from the sidewalk. Ugandan dancer Godfrey Muwulya performed in the parade for the Yard. “This is my first time in the parade. It’s beautiful. I have seen cars of the 90s and 40s and oh my God this is a big day for the United States,” he said.

View more photos of the parade.