Martha’s Vineyard celebrated the Fourth of July with quiet celebrations in the morning, and later in the day on the water and at the shore. With no parade or fireworks, the holiday was muted this year, as the pandemic continues to color every aspect of life on the Island.

The day began gray and misty, but in the afternoon when the sun came out, people flocked to the shorelines. — Jeanna Shepard

Summer crowds arrived for the holiday, flags were flying and families gathered. Most businesses are open. Downtown streets have been busy and harbors are filled.

Early in the day it was Sunday-morning quiet in Island harbors, parks and along main streets. A gray ceiling hung overhead and a light mist fell.

In Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven people lined up for coffee and breakfast sandwiches to go, faces covered, chatting about plans for the day: a picnic, a drive up-Island. “Tonight? I’m social distancing,” said one person standing in line at an Oak Bluffs bakery.

In the Camp Ground Frannie Capello was on his porch pruning hanging baskets of flowers.

“It’s quiet, especially in this area,” he said, reflecting the mood of the morning.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot to do, I don’t have family coming. I think they’re probably better off on the other side.”

He said his cottage used to belong to his grandparents. He was planning to leave soon to head to his job at the airport.

In Menemsha every slip in the harbor was occupied. People began arriving to pick up steamers and lobsters from Larsen’s and line up for scallops from the Martha Rose.

Afternoon scene at South Beach in Edgartown. — Ray Ewing

A few dedicated fishermen lined the jetty. Any luck? a reporter asked one as he made his way back. “Nope! Just a whole lot of wind,” was the answer.

Brooks Carroll worked the gas pumps at Menemsha Texaco.

Jorge Cabrera walked his black lab puppy Cole around the parking lot. A resident of Bridgewater, he said he loves to come to Menemsha on his boat. “This is our favorite spot, we enjoy it as a family. It’s quiet, you can enjoy the day peacefully,” he said.

In Edgartown as the town clock atop the Old Whaling Church struck nine, a small crowd gathered outside the Edgartown courthouse to honor Islanders who gave their lives in military service.

Edgartown police chief Bruce McNamee, in kilt and Scottish bonnet with his uniform shirt, played an air on the bagpipes as a small procession of veterans came into view from nearby School street.

Led by Marine veteran and retired longtime superior court clerk Joe Sollitto, the group’s oldest members were World War II veterans Bob Falkenberg and Herb Foster, both in their 90s.

As Mr. Sollitto placed a wreath of red, white and blue carnations before the monuments on the courthouse that honor fallen service members from Martha’s Vineyard, Chief McNamee — who served in both the Navy and the Army — played Amazing Grace.

Solemn wreath-laying ceremony was held in Edgartown in the morning. — Ray Ewing

The veterans saluted the monument and Jason Balboni, commander of the American Legion post in Edgartown, spoke briefly to some two dozen socially distanced listeners who stood in small groups or alone along Main street.

“On this day of celebration, let us not forget the soldiers who laid their lives down,” Mr. Balboni said.

Mr. Sollitto then named three Island veterans who have died since last July 4.

“Ted Morgan, Bill Carroll and Gene DeFelice: They’re not with us today,” he said.

After a final salute from the veterans, the crowd applauded.

Mid-morning, about two dozen people gathered along Upper Main street near Memorial Park, holding signs and stringing flags for peace, unity and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

A man named Eugene held a tattered sign that read: “Humanity on One Accord!” He said he made the sign just after Memorial Day and has used it in every demonstration since.

“This is Independence Day. But for me, independence never came,” he said. “We need to come together as a community. We want justice on all levels.”

Morning ceremonies were followed by an impromptu car parade through streets of Edgartown. — Ray Ewing

The demonstration was organized by the Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council.

Cars and bikers passed by, honking and holding up fists. An impromptu parade of vintage cars and trucks flying American flags drove by. The procession was led by a dump truck paneled with two large American flags, tailed by an Edgartown police escort. The motorcade honked, cheered and blared rock music.

Kathy Laskowski, one of the organizers, stood in front of a cannonball memorial, cutting fabric from a large roll to make more signs.

“It’s amazing to watch how people get involved and get excited to think about peace,” she said. “The wishes go into the air and the thoughts are shared in the breeze. We’re lucky it’s a windy day.”

In Vineyard Haven the morning mist hung over a sleepy Main street.

Beside the Capawock Theatre, Malcolm Boyd, born on Long Island but a Vineyarder for 35 years, had his coffee and sat beside his black lab Watson.

Mr. Boyd has marched in Independence Day parades over the years in New York and on the Island, with Boy Scouts and firefighters, but said his steadiest tradition on the Fourth is to wake up early.

On the water in Oak Bluffs. — Jeanna Shepard

“I’m not a big fan of celebrations,” he said. “My ancestors helped form this country, my father, and both my grandfathers were veterans of wars . . . I fly the flag every day.”

Down the street, on the porch of Waterside Market, Janet Sylvia waited for her husband to emerge with her coffee.

Ms. Sylvia and her husband were both born and raised in the town. They usually spend the Fourth watching the fireworks and parade and receiving friends and family, including their daughter and granddaughter who come from off-Island. But this year there won’t be many visitors.

“It’s weird that nothing is happening today,” she said. “But I like the slow pace . . .  it feels like back in the 70s right now.”

Across the porch Lillian McHugh, 18, munched on her breakfast. She and her family arrived just 10 minutes prior on the morning ferry for their annual visit to the Island.

“My favorite thing about the Fourth of July is just being on the Vineyard. It’s the official kickoff to summer,” she said.

Asked to reflect on the meaning of the holiday, she was quick to answer.

“This year especially [I think it’s important] to make a change to the Fourth of July and to show that everyone deserves independence, not just some of us.”

For spacious skies. — Jeanna Shepard

Later in the morning, at the Owen Park Beach, Mr. Boyd chatted with Doug Fetkenhour and the assistant harbor master. Boats moved in and out of the harbor and a couple in a paddleboat glided gently through the water nearby.

Mr. Fetkenhour, who visits the Island every summer with his family on what he calls his “annual pilgrimage,” brought his coffee down to the park to watch the boats go by. It’s a pastime he says never gets old for him.

And he said this year he’s been thinking about the history of the holiday.

“It’s interesting to think about sailing and exploration. The Europeans were explorers and they came over here and yet, while they were fighting for their freedom from the king, we, the white guys, perpetuated some of the . . . tyranny we were trying to escape.”

After a pause, he said: “I love this country and I’m optimistic. I’m hoping that those who are less liberal are getting a broader perspective on love and tolerance, regardless of creed or gender.”

Aaron Wilson, Louisa Hufstader, Maia Coleman and Will Sennott contributed reporting.

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