The peak of summer. A blast of nostalgia. The busiest night of the year. A monumental hassle.

Bunting at Soigne in Edgartown. Independence Day is Monday. — Ray Ewing

For locals and visitors alike, the Fourth of July is a cornerstone of summer on the Vineyard. This year, with pandemic restrictions eased, Island businesses and town officials are set to see the celebrations and the crowds roar back into action with renewed zeal.

“[July Fourth] is always the first real, big weekend of the summer,” said Island resident Bob Malecki. “We enjoy seeing the people come in, we enjoy the activity.”

Both the Fourth of July parade and fireworks will return to the celebrations in Edgartown this year after their official approval by the Edgartown select board Monday afternoon. For two years, pandemic precautions have precluded the traditional festivities, which draw over 1,000 marchers and 25,000 spectators in the estimation of parade grand marshal Joe Sollitto.

Mr. Sollitto further estimated that as many as 20 floats are likely to make their way from the Edgartown School down Main street and around Fuller and North Water streets in the parade’s circumnavigation of downtown Edgartown. The parade will welcome three New England bands —the Sutherland Pipe Band, the Colonial Navy Band, and the Bay State Band — in addition to community businesses, veterans, and Island and town officials.

The parade steps off promptly at 5 p.m. “Listen for the chimes on the Whaling Church clock. When it hits the fifth one, off we go!” Mr. Sollitto said.

Fireworks, the second grand attraction of the evening, will begin after sunset (or around 9 p.m.). This year, the town of Edgartown committed $75,000 to the show.

Edgartown will play host to a number of other events Monday. The Bay State Band will perform at 2 p.m. prior to the parade on the lawn of the Daniel Fisher house. At 10 a.m., Vineyard Sound will perform the National Anthem at the opening of the newly restored Memorial Wharf, and will take their vocal talents to the Harbor View Hotel for a 6 p.m. concert following the parade. Students from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School will sell concessions and merchandise on Main street during the afternoon.

Island businesses are preparing for the surge of visitors, especially with pandemic protocols relaxed or jettisoned by town officials. Nick Petrow, general manager of Backdoor Donuts, intends to hire a security guard to manage the weekend’s lines — some of the year’s longest.

Vineyard Haven harbor before the Fourth. — Tim Johnson

“We’re all staffed up,” Mr. Petrow said. “We’re expecting a busy weekend and post-Fourth week . . . It’s our first test of the season and I’m feeling confident in our staff.”

Brian Perry, a summertime bartender at the Ritz and West Tisbury school teacher during the off-season, plans to use his expertise managing sixth graders to wrangle this weekend’s crowds.

“Every night during the weekend of the Fourth it is wall-to-wall. We are all ready for the [Ritz] to pop off,” Mr. Perry said.

The Steamship Authority has just about reached its full summer staff capacity ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, about 700 workers, communications spokesman Sean Driscoll said. Boat line traffic numbers provided to the Gazette by Mr. Driscoll show that advance automobile reservations on the Vineyard route were essentially flat over last year for the 10-day period around the Fourth of July, down by about 100 reservations.

Total advance reservations for July through September are up 1.9 per cent, with September showing the largest jump, an increase of 5.5. per cent

At the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, despite pilot shortages and rising jet fuel prices, director Geoff Freeman said MVY still anticipates record travel numbers.

All four Island harbors — Menemsha, Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown — are fully booked or expect to be fully booked for the coming weekend. In Edgartown harbor, all reservations for the Fourth of July Week sold out on March 1, the day they became available, in just three minutes.

“We expect to have 300 boats in the harbor and 100 anchored off the Chappy Beach Club,” Edgartown harbor master Charlie Blair told the Gazette. “And Mick Jagger isn’t even playing!”

Such an influx of boats can pose a public safety risk on the water, Mr. Blair added. “Our biggest worry is when the fireworks are over and everyone has to come back into the harbor at the same time,” he said. “It looks like the armada scene from Jaws.”

Downtown Edgartown is parade-ready. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Lieut. Chris Dolby of the Edgartown police department also advised caution on the night of the Fourth.

“We have a lot of visitors to our town [on the Fourth] — take it slow, pay attention, and be cognizant of your surroundings,” Lieutenant Dolby said. But he said he’s glad that the festivities have returned after their pandemic hiatus.

“The Fourth of July for us is something we’ve hosted for a long time. Fortunately this year we have it back,” the lieutenant said.

The holiday weekend celebrations will extend well beyond Edgartown. Aquinnah will host its 21st annual Old South Road Children’s Parade, which draws dozens of marchers — young and old — from across the Island’s westernmost town. The parade will begin at 11 a.m., and will be followed by a picnic for Aquinnah residents at the Vanderhoop Homestead. Listeners across the Island can tune into WMVY Radio 88.7, which will broadcast an accompaniment to the parade, for a dose of patriotic music.

At 9:45 a.m. Monday, a smaller children’s parade will wind its way through the Oak Bluffs campground and celebrate the day with a morning bowl of ice cream — sure to be every parent’s favorite.

A full schedule of Fourth of July events can be found at

Edgartown town officials recommend that those planning to attend the parade and fireworks park at the Edgartown Park-and-Ride behind Donoroma’s or take the VTA, as the Edgartown School lot will be closed and in-town parking limited by the parade.