Getting ready for the Fourth of July

The front line of the kids parade waits at the starting line in the Campground. — Gabrielle Mannino

As the month of June comes to a close, Islanders and visitors alike gear up for the exciting and hectic unofficial start of summer — the Fourth of July.

There are many ways folks can celebrate the declaration of America’s independence. Whether it’s the quintessential red, white, and blue parade in Edgartown, or the Murdick’s Run the Chop Challenge, the Island will be abuzz with patriotism.

Kick off your Fourth of July with the five-mile Run the Chop Challenge. This race has been around for 18 years, and has generated over $100,000 for the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club.

The fun run race for kids 12 and under starts at 8:30 am, and costs $5. The classic race for adults starts at 9 am, and costs $25. Runners must register in advance if they wish to participate, although kids can register for the fun run at the time of the race. Pick up your race numbers at the Murdick’s Fudge Vineyard Haven location. 

After you get your sweat on in the race, bring your kiddos to the children’s Fourth of July parade at the Tabernacle in Trinity Park. The parade starts at 10 am and concludes at 11 am. Patriotic clothing, signs, and decorations are encouraged. The parade will flow down Clinton Avenue and around Trinity Circle, ending by the MVCMA Cottage Museum. 

At 2 pm in Vineyard Haven, gather on Main Street for the ninth annual Ringing of the Bells, where Freedom Bells will ring for two minutes in recognition of the Fourth of July.

At 4:30 pm, a reading of Frederick Douglass’ Fourth of July speech will take place at Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs. “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” is perhaps the most widely known of Douglass’ speeches, and explores the constitutional and values-based arguments against the U.S. slave trade.

And of course, you can’t miss the Fourth of July parade in Edgartown. Featuring classic cars decorated in red, white, and blue, and bunting hanging from black-shuttered houses, this year’s parade is sure to impress. The parade kicks off at 5 pm, so get into town early to snag a good parking spot, or take the VTA bus (it’s affordable and convenient). 

Bring some lawn chairs or towels to set up a spot along Main Street, and get decked out in your favorite red, white, and blue getup. The parade begins at the intersection of West Tisbury Road and Pinehurst Road, and finishes at Edgartown School. 

The deadline to enter the parade with either a car or float is 12 pm on July 3. The grand prize winner for the best float receives $1,000. Contact the Edgartown board of selectmen to register your float or car.

Immediately after the parade, head over to the Dr. Daniel Fisher House on Main Street for delicious hot dogs, hamburgers, refreshing drinks, and much more. The barbecue is sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust and the town of Edgartown.

Then, after having your fill of picnic food, find a nice spot by the water to watch a thrilling display of fireworks as darkness falls. 

Some good spots to see the show are Fuller Street Beach, the Memorial Wharf, the Edgartown Lighthouse near the Harbor View Hotel, and pretty much anywhere with a water view.