Historically cold and wet weather dampened an otherwise crowded Fourth of July weekend on the Vineyard, with police reporting busy streets, traffic jams, a few fireworks complaints and no major incidents.

Colorful home-grown parade in Aquinnah brightened a gray, chilly Independence Day. — Tim Johnson

“The weather really kept it at a dull roar,” said Edgartown police Lieut. Chris Dolby Monday, one day after the holiday. “Sunday afternoon definitely turned into a beach day. But nothing like years past, and it’s because of the weather.”

According to data from the National Weather Service, the Martha’s Vineyard Airport reported exactly an inch of rain between Thursday, July 1 and Sunday, July 4, with 0.54 inches of precipitation coming on Saturday.

Gray skies predominated all weekend.

According to the National Weather Service, it was the second coldest Fourth of July on the Vineyard since 2000, with a high of 67 and a low of 52 degrees reported Sunday. In 2005, the Island reported a low of 47 degrees.

Sunday was the first Fourth of July on record since 2000 in which temperatures did not reach 70 degrees.

Police said large crowds were mainly confined to downtown streets.

Polar Bears kept their long-held tradition at Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs. — Ray Ewing

In Edgartown, police made a few downtown, alcohol-related arrests and responded to two minor motor vehicle accidents, including one on Barnes Road that sent an operator to the hospital with minor injuries, according to Lieutenant Dolby.

“We had a couple disorderly arrests near the bars. Traffic was busy, but it was a typical fourth of July weekend,” he said.

He said the absence of the traditional parade and fireworks in town eased staffing concerns.

“The fireworks and parade are an entirely different production that would require four to five times the staffing on duty last night,” Lieutenant Dolby said. “We were busy, but we had adequate staffing.”

Tisbury Det. Bill Brigham said the town made one OUI arrest over the weekend and responded to a couple fireworks complaints. Otherwise, the biggest issue was traffic, particularly during the First Friday street closure.

“We were kind of all surprised . . . there were a lot of people here, but the weather kept it down,” Detective Brigham said. “Traffic was horrendous.”

Sgt. Michael Marchand in Oak Bluffs said police made about 10 arrests, although there were no major incidents.

“It was very busy, but with routine calls for service,” he said.

Usual children's parade in Aquinnah was adapted this year. — Tim Johnson

Up Island, police reported all quiet on the western front.

South Beach saw an act of heroism on Friday, when former lifeguard and current Edgartown special officer Brian Jordan noticed an adult male collapse on the beach during his patrol.

According to Lieutenant Dolby, officer Jordan ran over to the individual and noticed he wasn’t breathing. He immediately performed CPR, reviving him by the time other emergency services responders arrived.

“He’s spent a lot of time out there, so it was a good fit,” Lieutenant Dolby said.

On Sunday celebrations were muted, from Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs where the Polar Bears took their traditional early morning plunge, to State Road in Aquinnah where a colorful small-town parade wound past the Gay Head Light.

“Ain’t no stopping us now, we’re on the move,” sang the group of some 26 Polar Bears as they posed for a group photograph after a chilly morning swim in Nantucket Sound early Sunday, a Fourth of July tradition dating back for more than half a century.

It was the first gathering of the Bears in 2021.

“It was great to be back in the water today. So life is good,” said Trace Gaskin, 62, who was in the water with her mother Dr. Frances Gaskin, 85. The Gaskin family involvement in the Polar Bears dates to the 1960s.

Also following long tradition, candles were lit and words spoken in memory of four polar bears who died since the last gathering: Deidre Diodati, Liz Duff, Cynthia Smith and Lorriane Thomas.

The national holiday dawned gray and chilly on Sunday, capping a weekend of weather far more typical of May than July.

Play ball! Sunday summer softball league gets under way at Flanders Field in Chilmark. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Traffic snarled along main Island thoroughfares and crowds of people wandered the streets of down-Island towns. For many families gathered for the holiday, beach picnics were replaced by indoor lunches and dinners, puzzles, movies and board games.

The annual parade and fireworks in Edgartown that traditionally draws thousands to the harborfront town were canceled this year due to the pandemic.

But on Sunday morning in Aquinnah the usual children’s parade was adapted for the occasion. The parade began at 10 a.m. with a cannon blast. Out of caution for unvaccinated children, there was no buried treasure at Philbin Beach this year.

But there was plenty of candy thrown from color hand-decorated floats that lined up along with fire trucks and other vehicles to parade around the Circle.

“I like to throw candy at people!” declared Charlotte Bologna, who sat in the back of a truck driven by her parents Susie and Nick Bologna, along with friends Penny Athearn and Tilly Taylor.

“I mostly like eating candy,” confessed Penny.

Longtime parade organizer Tom Murphy helped usher cars into line at the outset with friendly greetings for all.

“It’s a few minutes of a lot of fun and everybody comes together and it’s been great,” he said.

Parade float carries reminder of ongoing pandemic. — Tim Johnson

Perhaps fittingly, the award for Best Float went to a vintage red truck decorated with a pro-vax banner driven by Doug Plummer and Cathleen Sheehan.

Across the Island visitors and residents marked the holiday in quiet ways, many simply expressing gratitude for the chance to gather again after a pandemic year that kept them away.

“We couldn’t come last year. It’s my favorite thing, it’s my happy place,” said Richard Springwater of San Francisco, sitting on the porch at the Chilmark Store Sunday morning. He said his family is back on the Island for vacation this year.

“It’s a big family trip, a kind of family reunion. So we’ll be going to the beach, we’ll going to Larsen’s — which is another happy place,” Mr. Springwater said.

“It doesn’t really feel like the fourth of July,” said Natalie Hutras who was enjoying morning coffee on the store porch with two co-workers from Morning Glory Farm.

“I was kind of bummed about not having a parade this year or fireworks,” she said. “I mean it makes sense to say safe, but I feel like there’s nothing really going on . . . And it’s kind of gloomy outside which is also throwing things off.”

In Chilmark, the summer softball league kicked off its 84th season at Flanders Field Sunday with a game dedicated to former short center fielder, avid sandlot softball evangelist and Pulitzer prize-winning West Tisbury writer Tony Horwitz, who died unexpectedly in May 2019.

Geraldine Brooks, Mr. Horwitz’s wife, threw out the first pitch, and players dedicated a bench to Mr. Horwitz, emblazoned with his 2011 “Howie Hustle” award and famous words, “Gloves In.”

On Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs, Jon and Kelsey Meyers and their kids were visiting the Vineyard for the first time from Kentucky.

“[We’re celebrating] being together, being able to get out, and being over the pandemic, moving on and enjoying family time,” Mr. Meyers said.

Nearby in the Camp Ground with its colorful gingerbread cottages, Tunji Williams sat on a bench with his 13-month-old daughter, listening to the nearby church service.

“I have mixed emotions being here,” he said. “My wife and I were having a conversation this morning just being conflicted about Independence Day in America. There’s so much we enjoy about being here, but at the same time you almost feel guilty for enjoying it.” He paused and added that he was not only celebrating the Fourth, but also “celebrating every day, celebrating life.”

More pictures, Polar Bears.

More pictures, Aquinnah parade.

Pictures, Fourth of July on the Vineyard.

Aliyah Walker and Kate Dario contributed reporting.