Tisbury Memorial Day picnic was a crowd pleaser, despite iffy weather

Odin Robinson exhibited his style, wearing a hat from Ecuador and trying out some new dance steps. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Despite persistent clouds that lingered after morning rain showers, many Islanders took an optimistic gamble and headed to the traditional Memorial Day holiday picnic in Tisbury Monday overlooking Lake Tashmoo. Tisbury picnic committee members estimated about 200 Islanders attended what turned out to be a rain-free event on the grounds of the Tisbury Water Works from noon to 4 pm.

“It started slow, and when the weather cleared, people started coming from all directions, from all over the Island,” picnic co-chairman Patricia Carlet said. “There have been a lot of kids here today, and they seem to be having a wonderful time.”

Picnic-goers dined on lunches that ranged from gourmet noshes and deli sandwiches brought from nearby eateries, to hot dogs and hamburgers cooked on a grill by volunteers. The chefs included Tisbury selectmen Jonathan Snyder and Melinda Loberg, former selectman Denys Wortman, and Jim Pringle, who pitched in to help his wife, picnic co-chairman Lorraine Wells. They ran out of gas – for the grill and for grilling duty – around 3:30 pm.

Children enjoyed pony rides on Rage, a 26-year-old female miniature horse owned by Kirstin Davy of Edgartown, and visits with alpacas from Island Alpaca Company of Martha’s Vineyard and owner Barbara Ronchetti. There were organized games for kids, as well, with prizes donated by Beebee Horowitz, owner of the Toy Box in Tisbury Market Place. With lots of colored chalk available, sidewalk artists covered the Tashmoo Spring building’s driveway in drawings, from top to bottom.

For the 33rd year in a row, The Flying Elbows entertained young and old alike with fiddle music. Tisbury selectman Tristan Israel added his musical talents.

Rowboats also were available for rides around the pond. A line of yellow tape cordoned off one section of shoreline opposite where boaters boarded, to avoid conflicts with a pair of nesting swans who were zealously guarding their unhatched eggs.

Many people took the opportunity to tour the Tashmoo Spring Building and see the latest renovations, including new landscaping outside and cabinets and other improvements inside. The building is now available to rent for events, which helps pay for its maintenance, Ms. Wells said.

“It’s nice to see that the building is going to be reused,” Joe Tonetti, an architect from New York City and longtime summer Vineyard Haven resident, said, as he stood admiring it. In the 1980’s, Mr. Tonetti spearheaded an application process to get the building included on the National Register of Historic Places, which finally came to fruition in 2009.

The Memorial Day picnic, open to everyone Island-wide, is truly a community effort in Tisbury, Ms. Carlet noted. Everyone in town pitches in and helps, she said, such as the department of public works setting up the picnic tables, the water department mowing the grounds, and town officials lending a hand, including harbormaster Jay Wilbur and shellfish constable Danielle Ewart, who assisted the rowboaters. David Ferraguzzi, Ms. Carlet’s husband and a board of public works commissioner, put up signs and acted as the picnic’s general troubleshooter. Ms. Carlet said the picnic committee could always use some more help, and that she hopes other community members will step up to volunteer for next year’s event.

Many Island businesses also make generous donations. Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop manager Sam Koohy provided 10 watermelons and Cronig’s donated hot dogs and rolls. Seaside Celebrations provided a tent and Tisbury School lent a portable gas grill. Funds from MV Playhouse and grant money from the MV Cultural Council helped provide music, free ice cream for children, posters, and other extras for the picnic, Ms. Carlet said.

The Vineyard Transit Authority also contributed to the event, with free rides for picnic-goers from Vineyard Haven to the Tashmoo overlook.