Ferries to the mainland were full on Monday as vacationers bid the season a bittersweet farewell.

Lined up to leave on Labor Day in Vineyard Haven. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“This is really depressing,” said Jeff Katowitz of Philadelphia as he made his way to his car to drive onto the 9:50 a.m. ferry.

“We’re looking ahead to Fourth of July next year,” said Monica Esposito of Westwood as she waited by the terminal to board the boat. The Steamship Authority wharf in Oak Bluffs was bustling with the usual mix of goodbyes in various languages and accents, but this time, many wouldn’t return until spring.

“I love it. I’ll be back,” said Kierra Blassingame of Maryland, whose husband Jeremy surprised her with a weekend trip to celebrate their anniversary.

“She’s wanted to come here for a long time,” Mr. Blassingame said.

With the days getting shorter and school set to start Tuesday, signs of fall were abundant on the Island. The Big Bridge stood empty and there was ample parking space along State Beach. At Alley’s General Store, beach supplies were on sale — half off.

Jim DeMarco served coffee and bagels to a line of baggage-laden customers from behind the counter at Vineyard’s Best Ice Cream and Coffee Company on Kennebeck avenue in Oak Bluffs.

“It’s the mass exodus,” he remarked to one regular. His cafe will close next month for the off-season. “I’m ready. We’re all ready. It’s a dual feeling. It’s a combination of relief and sadness,” Mr. DeMarco said.

So long, see you next summer. — Mark Alan Lovewell

At Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs, the Polar Bears swimming club celebrated the official close to the season with a potluck breakfast. The group meets for water exercises and swimming every morning beginning July 4th. According to a sign for the occasion listing Polar Bear Statistics, the biggest circle in 2019 (August 12) included 149 people, and the smallest (July 23) had just five. The youngest inductee this year was nine years old.

Caroline Hunter, a leading Bear, said though the season officially ends on Labor Day, a small group meets for morning swims at the Oak Bluffs beach as late as November.

“Those of us who are here, we go as long as we can stand it,” she said.

As the 9:50 a.m. ferry departure time neared, Mike (Big Cat) Abram cheerfully handed out tickets to the last few drivers at the kiosk. When Oak Bluffs ferry service ends next month, he’ll transfer over to Vineyard Haven, where his shift will start every morning before dawn. In the winter, he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to have time to get ready and drive to work from his home in Aquinnah.

“I start at 5:30 over there, 6:30 over here, and 9:20 in the shoulder season,” he said. “I’m fine with it. It’s good to have a change once in a while. Keeps you sane.”

Home page picture by Jeanna Shepard.