Celebrate the summer

What to do on July Fourth during a pandemic.


Fourth of July on Martha’s Vineyard will be looking very different this year, as the Island gears up to welcome visitors during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Island’s premiere Independence Day event, the annual parade and fireworks that draw thousands to downtown Edgartown, have been canceled. If you are looking for ways to celebrate the Fourth this year, here is what’s happening on-Island:

Speech on the Beach
Virtual, Oak Bluffs

The Renaissance House is producing the Frederick Douglass speech “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” virtually. People recorded themselves at home reading a segment of the speech, and emailed it to renaissancehse@aol.com. The Renaissance House is compiling all the videos, and uploading them to MVTV, YouTube, and other outlets.

Aquinnah Fourth of July Parade
In-person, Aquinnah

The town of Aquinnah will host a socially distant parade of floats in honor of essential workers at 9:30 am on Saturday, July 4. Families are welcome to participate by decorating their vehicles. The parade route will begin with a vehicle lineup on Moshup Trail, and go down Old South Road heading toward the Cliffs. Spectators lining the route should wear masks as appropriate. A special parade soundtrack will be provided by WMVY on 88.7 FM.

Silent Witness for Peace and Justice
In-person, Edgartown

The M.V. Peace Council, M.V. Quaker Meeting, and Indivisible M.V. are hosting a silent gathering to spread the message of peace, justice, and liberty in Cannonball Park in Edgartown. Participants will hold peace flags and stand in silence surrounding the park to serve as a visual catalyst for the community, working toward healing bias and violence in the U.S. All participants must wear masks and practice social distancing. Flag-making materials are available on the porch at 25 Tuckernuck Ave. in Oak Bluffs, and at the event. Parking will be available at Edgartown School.

WWII Veterans Memorial Drive
In-person, Edgartown

WWII veterans Bob Falkenberg and Herb Foster will drive down Main Street and back to the Edgartown School to honor and memorialize those members of the armed forces who gave their lives and lie in sacred ground somewhere in the world. Falkenberg is 93, and served with the 25th Infantry Division in the Occupation of Japan, and Foster is 92 and served with the 24th Infantry Division in the Occupation of Japan. Both men are members of the Martha’s Vineyard Veterans Military Funeral team. Falkenberg and Foster will start their route with an escort by the Edgartown Police Department at 5 pm.

Artist, author, and musician at Cousen Rose Gallery
In-person, Oak Bluffs

The Cousen Rose Gallery is hosting artists Michael Johnson and Rayhart, author Skip Finley, and keyboardist Griffin McMahon from 7 to 9 pm. Johnson is an artist who photographed a silhouette titled “Joy” that captures Polar Bear swimmers at Inkwell Beach. Rayhart is an acrylic painter who uses an abstract and surreal style. Finley is an Oak Bluffs author who wrote “Historic Tales of Oak Bluffs” and “Whaling Captains of Color — America’s First Meritocracy.” The gallery is located at 71 Upper Circuit Ave. in Oak Bluffs. All visitors must wear masks.

Let Freedom Ring

At 2 pm on Saturday, July 4, bells in Vineyard Haven will chime for freedom. This 11-year tradition is especially important this year, according to one of the organizers, Jane Chandler. There will be no public gathering this year, but the community is asked to listen for the bells and, Chandler said, “remember how important freedom is for everyone.”