Independence Day celebrations are all about family gatherings as we celebrate the red, white and blue and salute the birth of a new nation. My daughter Caroline and her family have arrived. Her childhood friends Robin Carroll and Jeffrey Jackson are arriving shortly thereafter. Jeffrey has recently relocated from New Jersey to Atlanta and all are anxious to hear about his professional transition. His move has been made easier by the hospitality of Ivy Redd and her family. She too has recently alighted from the Oak Bluffs ferry with her three children. Robin’s parents, Ronald and Charleen, will be surprising their grandchildren with a new deck and furnishings for their new patio and landscaping touches. Just in time for the cookouts!

Tiffany Hall is coming in from New York with toddler Theodore, to the delight of grandparents Shirley and Elliott Hall. Chronicle anchor Shayna Seymour from WCVB-TV in Boston will be arriving with her Emmy Award, along with kids Paige and Blake. Smiles, claps and bows are sure to come from grandparents Charlena and Harry Seymour.

Jackie and Wayne Budd’s guest cottage will be noisy once again as Wayne’s daughters Keri, Kristy and Kim Budd are en route with their high school and college youngsters to East Chop.

Monica Lyle is the chief book reader for her summer book club during the months of June, July and August. The June book was Summer on the Bluffs by best-selling author and lawyer Sunny Hostin. Sunny will be visiting the Island this summer for a book reading at Union Chapel. Stay tuned for details.

Union Chapel trustees kicked off the 2021 season last Saturday in East Chop with their annual picnic hosted by Heidi and Will Bryan. The chapel was unable to celebrate its 150th Anniversary last year because of the pandemic but plans will be full steam ahead this summer. Trustee Brenda Bryan handed out caps, T-shirts, fans and other celebratory swag to those on hand. These items will be available to the public each Sunday. The newly-refurbished Austin organ has been installed and Minister of Music Bill Peek is giddy with pride and a sense of accomplishment. Trustee Lois White, chair of the music committee, has recently recovered from health issues that caused her to miss the past three years on the Island. She will be on the greeting line this Sunday. Cannot wait to see her and husband George.

Services will be in person and livestreamed beginning this Sunday, July 4 at 10 a.m.. Dr. Valerie Smith, president of Swarthmore College, will be the lay speaker this Sunday. Vaccination verification will be required for admission.

Our Union Chapel trustee ranks were thinned this past month as longtime Trustee Sam Barnes passed on June 11. He was 91.

President Jim Guest of the East Chop Tennis Club has announced that the club will be open for all activities this summer season. Tennis Director Jennifer Gelhaus and Manager Kevin Warner are offering a range of programs to the public, including junior instruction and clinics for tiny tots to high school players. Pee wees (4-6), rookies (7-9), veterans (10-14), all stars (14+) are all welcomed!

This past Saturday, Oak Bluffs surrounded two of its most beloved residents who transitioned from earth to heaven: Nelson deBettencourt Jr. and Dennis Redican. Hundreds attended both services, held simultaneously at the Oak Grove Cemetery and the beach by the first bridge past Nomans. Nelson was the longtime proprietor of the gas and repair station on New York avenue that he purchased in 1946. But many remembered his love of gardening and bees. Dennis’ profession was as an arborist but he was widely known for his unwavering support of struggling addicts and alcoholics. Two giants whose legacies will be the subject of many conversations and laughs over the years.

Paradise on earth is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting!