On July 3 men and women wearing uninterrupted white attire from high fashion to leisure wear gathered at the gazebo on Ocean Park greeting old friends and giving introductions to new comers — myself included. Mingling in small groups defined sometimes by geography, alumni affiliations and those that were staying in the same cottage was prevalent. The group took time to take a photo of attendees that have joined fraternity and sororities from their college days. There was excitement among the record attendance of 84 as they chatted, embraced one another and welcomed babies, older children and seniors at this inter-generational community.

Bobby Edwards, the undisputed convener, encouraged this circle of love and community to begin waking down to the former “pay beach” (now the expanded Inkwell Beach). The circle was a magnificent site of people in all shades and genders coming together for the 16th year affirming love, happiness, peace and belonging. The program included recognizing those loved ones who died this year and congratulatory praise to those who achieved successful milestones this year. The circle has become an institution deeply rooted in the history of inclusiveness in Oak Bluffs. The year 2025 cannot come fast enough.

The Cottagers new president Patricia Bush proudly announces the 37th annual House Tour to be held on July 18. Pat underscores this year’s theme of “Gems on the Bluffs” consisting of five homes with a variety of interior designs. Event chair, Ann Stewart, notes that the tour consists of “large Victorian cottages to small properties. Some have unique designs, some are brand new.”

Tickets for this event can be purchased from Cottage members or purchased the day of the tour starting at Hartford Park. Proceeds are used to fund Island charities. All are welcome.

The Polar Bears opened their 2024 season on July 4 with a new record of 111 in the exercise circle — 45 newbies and 15 swimmers! We also honored and celebrated the legacy of love and justice left by Polar Bear Gloria Wong. Many of her children and grandchildren were in attendance.

Gloria Wong will be celebrated by the Island on Sunday, July 14 at 1 p.m. at the Tabernacle, with Polar Bear Hansel Tookes as one of the celebrants.

On this past Monday, they celebrated the legacy of Iris Ogla Coleman, of Roxbury and Oak Bluffs, the last of the original Polar Bears. Her daughter Linda Coleman and four generations were present on Inkwell Beach for the Polar Bear legacy ceremony. Polar Bear vocalist, Anne Elliott, graced the attendees with singing of Wade in the Water as a contingent of Polar Bears swimmers took Ms. Coleman’s ashes out to sea.

Chief Polar Bear Caroline Hunter recently returned from her fourth trip to Cannes Lions, the International Festival of Creativity, where she was part of the Cannes Can Diversity Collective, CC: DC Team, Don’t Talk About It. Be About It!.

The CC:DC site at Cannes Lions is named InkwellBeachCannes, dedicated to the love, fellowship, sense of belonging and camaraderie experienced by founder Adrianne C. Smith when she joined the Polar Bears. The guest list on the CC:DC platform included John Legend, Queen Laifah, Gabrielle Union, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Bozoma Saint John, Deepak Chopra,Yara Shahidi and Ali Love.

Family and friends gathered on Eastville Beach on July 5 to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Sidney Sykes to husband Ben Wood. Hosted by Karen James, Kirk Sykes and Tammy Jones the crowd was treated to a magnificent feast and tons of bubbly. The curated beverage of watermelon and tequila fueled an already receptive gathering. Sydney is the granddaughter of the late Paul and Francine James, longtime Vineyard residents that were an important part of the social fabric of the island. They would have been enormously proud.

The cheerful crowd filled the air with toasts of best wishes for the young couple.

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

Rest in peace, Randall Edward Taylor.