The OB Boogie began six years ago when a group of four mothers decided to bring their friends and families together to dance, play sports and have fun. Over the years it has become one of the largest summer gatherings on the Island for African Americans. The first year about 200 people participated. This year about 900 people attended the event, said Michelle Sanchez-Boyce, one of the organizers.

Rain was heavy all day, but that didn’t dampen spirits as the large crowd gathered beneath a tent on the lawn of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. A deejay kept the dancing going and the sports were led by a special guest —  Willie O’Ree.

Over 900 people attended Tuesday's event. — Maria Thibodeau

Mr. O’Ree is referred to as the Jackie Robinson of ice hockey due to breaking the color barrier when he joined the Boston Bruins as a winger in 1958. Since his retirement in 1979, Mr. O’Ree has worked in youth development for the NHL, participates with the Boys and Girls Club and volunteers at a juvenile detention center. On Tuesday, he showed kids how to work on their slapshot.

To him, the most important thing is seeing kids being active, having fun and working hard.

“If I can’t get them on the ice, I set them up with the street hockey program,” he said as he watched a group of boys slapshot foam pucks into a plastic net. “I really believe in the sport because I’ve seen it help people, kids, set their own goals for themselves.”

Smiles all around — Maria Thibodeau

Mr. O’Ree was inducted into the hockey hall of fame last year and has recently been featured in a film about his life and hockey career. The film is called Willie and a date for a Vineyard screening will be announced this week.

The event also featured a raffle and plenty of opportunity for prizes. But just like any sporting match, it was more about the community than who won.

“It’s so great to come back every year, to see old faces and meet new ones,” said Mamie Parker, who has gone to the OB Boogie each of the six years. “Many generations of many families are here. That’s what it’s all about.”