In Aquinnah, Old South Road becomes a parade route

Kristin Mannion, Sue Jensen, Lisa Donahue, and John Patton — Grand Marshals of 2011. Mr. Patton is one of the soloists of the Old South Road Pots and Pans Band. — Photo by Susan Safford

Nine years ago, Kristin Mannion was faced with a decision that many parents around the Island confront when it comes to kids and the 4th of July: How to schlep the kids to Edgartown, park within an hour’s walk of downtown, find a spot where the kids can actually see the parade over people standing several feet taller, and extricate them before they melt down like the ice cream that’s dribbled down their red-white-and-blue tee-shirts. And Ms. Mannion had a 40-minute drive to contend with, even without traffic, each way, from and to her summer home off Moshup Trail in Aquinnah. In her case, “the kids” were, and are, twins Emma and Max Goldfield, now 11.

With a few other families along Old South Road, Ms. Mannion organized her own parade. At first it was a couple of dozen people, with kids banging pots and pans, “marching” from house to house. But like all good ideas that are fun and encourage creative expression, this one grew, and grew, and grew… and became a tradition.

On Monday, the handful of parade founders and their parents were joined by a ragtag regiment of revelers to celebrate the nation’s birthday by dressing up in red, white, and blue, making as much noise as they could, and proceeding down the last bit of Old South Road from the Mannion-Goldfield house, turning right onto Moshup Trail, and then left into the Philbin Beach parking lot.They walked, they trotted, they rode bikes, and they rode in old sports cars, a fire engine, and a lawn mower. And they had a police escort, a certain sign that the event has developed some gravitas, a potential danger sign that it may now be over the radar.

From there, after discarding shoes, sandals, and boots, the mob tromped over the dune, led by younger participants who were eager to start looking for the buried treasure on the beach. Following a shrivelled, discolored map that someone had found in a printer somewhere, the motley troupe of scalawags and rapscallions followed the clues past “2 beams,” “ROCKS,” “Teepee,” to the “pile of seaweed” that covered the “TREASURE” at the end of the rainbow.

There, anxious little hands dug and whisked sand away until they uncovered a trove of candy, somehow all neatly packaged in red-white-and-blue plastic bags. Who knew that pirates had Saran wrap?