Making a Fourth of July float is a labor of fun

The Farm Institute float sported goats. — Photo by Gail Daman

For excited onlookers lining Main Street, the annual Fourth of July parade in Edgartown began at 5 pm at the Edgartown School. But for the scores of community members involved in making the many floats, preparation began long before the parade kicked off.

As they waited for the procession to begin, representatives of four organizations spoke to the Times about what it took to bring the extravagant floats to life. For some, it’s all about the history, or the tradition. For others, it’s all about the kids.

Jessica ZoobEdgartown Yacht Club

“We’ve been doing this every year since the parade came around. This year, it took about two activity nights to complete. The kids drew all the banners surrounding the trailer. The boat is an Optimus Pram, one of our fleet — it’s what the kids learn to race on. Rob Donahue, head of the junior sailing committee, is driving us in the Yacht Club truck. We have about 14 kids participating, and we’re trying to fit them all in the truck.”

Sidney Morris — FARM Institute

“We started on Monday. The kids helped for a couple hours every day, as you can see they did all of the painting. We didn’t spend anything on materials; everything we used was something we had at the farm. We’ve been doing this for about ten years, ever since the FARM Institute started. Driving here we got passed by a lot of cars going fast. But we also got a lot of encouraging honks and waves…I think we’re the only float that has goats. We’ll be pulling the float with our John Deere, because it wouldn’t be a farm without a tractor.”

Corrigan Mello — Harbor View Hotel

“It’s made out of wood, blood, sweat, and tears. The inspiration for the railroad car is the dawn of tourism. We built a replica of the old cars that used to connect O.B. to Katama. The Harborview Hotel was built in 1891, about when the railroad started, and it helped the Harborview become sort of an icon of the Vineyard. We built this in December for the Christmas parade and we’re reusing it again with some new decoration.”

Pamela Thomas — M.V. Youth Hockey

“We’ve been doing the parade for five years now with this group, but Youth Hockey has been doing it for years. We’re just putting it all together now, as you can see. I designed it…if you can call it a design. The firecrackers we made a couple years ago but we put new duct tape and garland on them. The hockey player cutouts and the hockey sticks are all new this year. This year was fast — it took probably eight or ten hours. The program loves it, and for the young kids that are just getting into hockey these are memories they will have forever. They will get older and say, ‘Remember the Fourth of July when we rode in the float?’ So that’s what its about, it’s a lot of fun. Mostly we see the youngest kids come out. The owner of Bruno’s, Greg Carroll, is driving us in the Bruno’s truck today. His family has been involved in the program for a long time and he makes this stuff happen. He dropped it off last night and got the float going early this morning. It’s the kind of attitude that is both instrumental with the float and with the program.”