In the Edgartown courthouse early one morning this week, Joseph E. Sollitto Jr. took his time getting to his desk. He’s having a little problem with his knee, but won’t stop him from leading the annual Fourth of July parade next Tuesday. “I’ll drag myself out there if I have to,” he joked.

Mr. Sollitto is superior court clerk and parade grand marshal. He took over four years ago from former grand marshal Fred B. Morgan Jr., whom he still considers to be in charge. “Ted will be at the front, riding in a vehicle. I’ll be marching right behind him,” Mr. Sollitto said.

It never rains on the porch swing. — Ray Ewing

With two veterans at the helm, (Mr. Morgan of the Air Force and Mr. Sollitto of the Marine Corps) it’s no surprise that the parade will start promptly at 5 p.m. “As soon as the clock strikes the fifth chime, we’re stepping off,” Mr. Sollitto said. He estimated that there will be about 25,000 people watching the procession and about 1,000 people marching. For all those marching, getting to the pre-parade lineup at the Edgartown School by no later than 4 p.m. allows for a punctual start, Mr. Sollitto said.

He also praised Edgartown administrative assistant Kristy Rose for handling the details. “My name goes in the paper but she does all the legwork,” Mr. Sollitto said. He doesn’t sit around until the Fourth, however. The parade creeps into his mind in March and real planning begins in May. On Monday, he went to the selectmen’s meeting to formally invite them to participate in the parade. The selectmen, naturally, are always involved. Among other things they will award a $1,000 prize for the best float.

While he’s marched since 1972, first as a conductor for the Boys’ Club’s Drum and Bugle Corps and then with the Marine Corps, Mr. Sollitto has only watched the parade once. What surprised him most? “All the gaps between the floats,” he said.

Police on bicycles will help keep the parade shipshape. “We want to keep it moving and keep it unified,” Mr. Sollitto said. Another type of unity he hopes for is in the theme. “Anybody who wants to participate should participate. But we want a patriotic theme,” said Mr. Sollitto. “It’s the Fourth of July.”

Oak Bluffs Camp Ground 20th annual children's parade is at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. — Timothy Johnson

The parade route starts at the Edgartown School, winds down Main street, reaches the Harbor View Hotel, moves down North Water street and then back up Main. “It’s kind of fun to go the wrong way up Main street,” Mr. Sollitto said.

Meanwhile, on the national holiday all types of fun can be had around town. The Bay State Band and Vineyard Haven band will be in the parade but they will also play concerts at the Old Whaling Church at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. respectively. Both bands will play patriotic crowd-pleasers.

The Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust will hold its annual barbeque on the lawn of the Dr. Daniel Fisher house. Food is sold concession-style and all are welcome to bring a blanket and view the parade from the lawn, said Janet Heath of the Trust. At St. Elizabeth’s Church across the street, the famous lobster roll sale will be staged from noon to 6 p.m.

The Fourth of July, this year marking the 241st anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, has not always been about streamers and candy of course. When the Continental Congress declared that the 13 colonies were no longer part of the British Empire, a new nation was formed and the founders celebrated. This day marked the start of a new chapter in the young country’s history.

Edgartown parade on is at 5 p.m. on Tuesday — Mark Lovewell

To mark history there will be two dramatic readings of Frederick’s Douglass’s speech The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro. The first reading will take place on Monday at the Federated Church, beginning at noon. On Tuesday at Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs, Renaissance House will host its 11th annual dramatic reading of the Douglass speech. The free event begins at 4 p.m. In both events, community members take turns reading parts of the famous speech that dates to 1852.

Transportation services are gearing up for the busy holiday.

Patty Philbin of the Vineyard Transit Authority said they would be ramping up service by adding eight extra buses to a variety of routes. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. the Edgartown routes will be detoured to avoid the parade. “Buses that normally stop at Church street won’t go farther than the top of Cannonball Park,” she said.

Airlines and ferries coming to the Vineyard are mostly booked solid.

“Here we go,” said Cape Air station manager Colin Ewing. “It’s summer.”

Edgartown police chief Dave Rossi said there will be 50 extra officers in town. “We recruit them from other towns to help out,” the chief said by phone this week. “My biggest worry is kids chasing after candy in the street. If someone leaves a package somewhere, don’t sit next to it. Use common sense,” he advised.

Parking along the parade route will be closed after 3 p.m. Public parking is available in the town lot on Dark Woods Road, with trolley service into town.

Handicapped parking can be found in the town lot by the Edgartown Yacht Club after 3 p.m. “If you want to get your car in, make sure you’re in by four,” said Chief Rossi.

And while the parade in Edgartown is the main hub, it’s not the only parade on the Island on Tuesday. The Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association will host its 20th annual Fourth of July kids’ parade, starting on West Clinton Avenue in Oak Bluffs from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Families and kids are welcome, but bikes and motorized scooters are not.

For those that want to get even further away from down-Island traffic, the 15th annual Aquinnah children’s parade will step off at 11 a.m. The celebration starts with face painting, coffee and donuts at the Goldfield-Mannion house at 5 Old South Road at 10 a.m. The parade starts shortly thereafter at the top of Moshup Trail and proceeds down Old South Road and to the entrance of Philbin Beach where treasure is buried in the sand.

On the list of traditions that, if altered, would cause a new revolution, is the fireworks display over Edgartown harbor. They begin at dusk.