Tivoli, I love it

Archie Stewart. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Archie Stewart, master kite builder and an American Kiteflier's Association national champion, helps launch a kite up into the sky. Photos by Ralph Stewart

By Eleni Collins - September 21, 2006

This past Sunday, Circuit Avenue was lined with crowds of people in place of vehicles, fingering through racks of $5 Martha's Vineyard T-shirts and reuniting with people they had not seen throughout the summer bustle. The smell of crab cakes and shea butter wafted through the crowds as the vendors of Oak Bluffs put on a display for the masses, and celebrated the busiest day they will have until next July 4th.

The event, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 16, was postponed on Friday night when the National Weather Service was predicting rain.

Jenna Skilling. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Jenna Skilling admires her kite as she flies it in Ocean Park.

Though Sunday turned out to be perfect weather, the crowds seemed lacking, according to vendors. "When it's on Sunday, it's never as busy," commented Sharon Kelly, owner of The Secret Garden. Ms. Kelly enjoyed the day outside her store hosting a book signing for her children's book, "Coco's Vineyard Vacation," with fellow children's author Ilana Mackin and her book about the Flying Horses, "The Greatest Place on Earth."

Although the event features great discounts for the adult shopper, it is also geared towards the kids, beginning with a children's parade down Circuit Ave. at 12 noon. About 15 kids strolled in costumes ranging from Clifford the Big Red Dog to a miniature Flying Horses carousel on wheels. Awards were given out in three categories - best wagon-based, stroller-based, and walking costume.

For the consumer, the best deals on the street ranged from the Sand Bar and Grill's $6 burger and beer, Eastaway's $24.99 black winter down jackets that made you sweat just looking at them, to the three crab cakes for $5 outside Linda Jean's. Shoppers could also indulge in shrimp cocktail and other fresh seafood at Coup de Ville's raw bar in the middle of Circuit Avenue, a refreshing break from the shopping madness.

In addition to the longstanding tradition of low-priced Island goods, this Tivoli Day boasted a couple of firsts. At the kite-flying event in Ocean Park, people were invited to make and fly their own kites. Bob Glover, executive director of the Oak Bluffs association, the committee responsible for town events, organized kite flying with his longtime friend and kite enthusiast Archie Stewart. Kite-making had a successful first run, as approximately 44 kites were made.

Jen Perrin and Tammy Matchem. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Jen Perrin, left, and Tammy Matchem make fresh-squeezed lemonade to help raise money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Martha's Vineyard.

To involve the restaurant community a little more in Tivoli day, Mr. Glover and Dennis DaRosa, president of the Oak Bluffs Association, decided to host the first Tivoli Day "Wait Staff Olympics." Although 12 people had signed up, because of sickness and work schedules only three showed up and competed. All three competitors were from Season's. "It was an idea that came out of some of the restaurant owners who were talking to Dennis," said Mr. Glover. "It seemed like a great way to get the restaurants involved and highlight the fact that they're there."

Taylor Brasefield. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Atop her mobile carousel creation, Taylor Brasefield moves up Circuit Avenue during the children's parade.

There were two events in the contest at 3 pm. The first involved carrying a tray of cups filled with Chilmark Spring Water from the end of Circuit Ave. near the Slice of Life to Season's and back, through the dense crowds. Points were given for time and for the amount of water remaining in the cups. For the second event, the contestants were given an unfamiliar menu and had two minutes to memorize the specials. Brie Barstow, who placed second in both events, was the overall winner.

For the most part, vendors were content in the sun. "Tivoli brought out the best in Oak Bluffs," said J.B. Blau, co-owner of Sharky's Cantina. Marilyn Moses, at Tivoli Day as a vendor for the third year, found her Vineyard Soaps booth to be a hit. "It's been a real success," she said. "It seems really busy, with a lot of the same people from last year."

There was "a lot of great conversation," according to Kathy Brennan, who was manning the booth for the Democratic Council of Martha's Vineyard.

Marguerite Cook, owner of The Good Ship Lollipop candy store, commented, "It was wonderful, a little warm, but that's okay. It's better than rain."

Held in the middle of September every year, Tivoli Day marks the end of the summer season. The name "Tivoli" comes from the famous "Tivoli Amusement Park" in Copenhagen, Denmark, which was created in 1843. The name was brought to Oak Bluffs when naming the Tivoli Dance Hall, a large entertainment hall that operated where the old Oak Bluffs Town Hall was, until the 1960s.