For decades, Labor Day weekend was a celebratory end of the summer in the Oak Bluffs community. Particularly during the Age of Brooke, when the Oak Bluffs Tennis Club hosted its tournament on courts at the Island Inn and at private courts in backyards, with the finals held at Niantic Park while the crowd sipped beverages and ate snacks provided by the late Mel Patrick. It was “the” event for the summer!

Much has changed since then. The major events for the summer are sprinkled throughout July and August but especially the month of August, with Labor Day as more of a time to exhale than to celebrate.

Events planned for the summer of 2021 were not so very certain in this virus environment. But with health protocols in place, the demand to return to the Vineyard would not be denied.

Union Chapel had a spectacular season of Sunday services and public forums, all in recognition of their 150th Anniversary celebration. Dr. Valerie Smith, president of Swarthmore College, began the season. An overflow of vaccinated audience members were treated to preaching from Rev. Howard John Wesley, Rev. Otis Moss 3rd and Rev. Senator Rafael Warnock. Attendees at the organ dedication were treated to the genius of Alcee Chriss 3rd, winner of the 2017 Canadian International Organ Competition.

Professors Nikole Hannah-Jones and Michael Eric Dyson, Sunny Hostin and the Boston Medical Center highlighted what will now be known as the Prof. Charles Ogletree Public Forums at Union Chapel.

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum had several fabulous exhibitions recognizing The Cottagers’ 60th Anniversary, Union Chapel and more. They hosted their annual fundraiser with amazing bits of Vineyard history while saluting board president Cathy Weiss and welcoming new executive director Heather Seger.

The arts and culture sophisticates were treated to two events hosted by trustees of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts: the 19th Run and Shoot African American Film Festival as well as artist displays at the Knowhere Art Galleries in Oak Bluffs, all big hits. Aretha Franklin never sounded so good as in the film Aretha and the food detailed in Jessica Harris’s latest cookbook, High on The Hog, never looked so tasty. Narragansett House featured singers, book readings and just plain good fun for their entire neighborhood throughout July and August.

Since the Age of Obama, there would be no summer without political events and this summer was no exception. Val Moseley’s iconic porch overlooking Nantucket Sound hosted social entrepreneur and Rhodes Scholar Wes Moore, who is running for governor of Maryland, and Mayor Kim Janey of Boston, who is seeking a full term. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Montgomery, Alabama Mayor Steve Reed surprised president-maker Congressman Jim Clyburn at an event in East Chop.

President Obama enjoyed a scaled down 60th birthday celebration, no less significant, and we wish him good health for 2022 and beyond.

Without a doubt, the Girlfriends’ national luncheon held at Deon’s was the social splash of the season. The 150 attendees hosted by the Boston chapter featured fun, frolic and lobsters. Reservations are already being made for 2022.

Howard University and Hampton University had high visibility on the Island this summer. Bison alums poured out love to Prof. Nikole Hannah-Jones as she prepares to join the Howard University faculty this fall. Hampton trustees Michael Armstrong and Calvin Butts from East Chop introduced entrepreneurial platforms in clothing apparel and real estate, respectively. Both earned praise.

The “other HU” traditionally represented by Prof. Henry Louis Gates and the Hutchins Center, is expected to return to the Island next season.

As the summer extends to extra innings in October, the Indigenous People’s Weekend has given birth to the Old School Inkwell Picnic. Hope to see you there as we share food and libation while bidding farewell to the snowbirds and start planning off-season activities with the ever-increasing number of year-round residents.

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