Aquinnah: Focus group and senior transportation

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— Kyra Steck

The Aquinnah Wampanoag Powwow did not disappoint. While Saturday was remarkably warm, people came in droves to celebrate. There were many familiar faces among the regalia-clad dancers, singers, and musicians, but there were others who had traveled from other areas to perform and participate. My favorite were the children in regalia dancing traditional dances with confidence and authority. The food was on point, with Sly Fox from Mashpee serving up bluefish, salmon, and scallops, among other delectables. Theresa Manning was in charge of serving a lunch for the Wampanoag elders, which looked lovely. It was wonderful to see so many generations of Aquinnah families coming together.

While some things have closed, there is still life at the Cliffs and around town. The Aquinnah Shop has closed for the season. Cliffhangers is still open, but may be closing by the end of the month. The Gay Head Store is slated to stay open through November, along with the other stores at the Cliffs. The Outermost Inn is closing Oct. 9, but hoping to reopen at the end of October for lunch and brunch. The Orange Peel Bakery is open year-round, and special nights and dinners will change seasonally. The Chilmark Tavern’s last night will be Sept. 24, and the Homeport will be open through Indigenous People’s Day weekend. The Chilmark Store will also be open until the beginning of November.

At the library, the next meeting of the book group will be on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 3 pm to discuss Sara Novic’s “True Biz.” The group will be held on the deck; email aq_mail@clamsnet.org to register.

While at the Powwow I caught up with David and Saskia Vanderhoop. They had a great summer of camp, their new barn is finished, and they have a strong staff helping them. They will be starting their Sassafras Friday and Saturday youth program on Friday, Sept. 23, and Saturday, Sept. 24. Registration is open to all Island youth; you can register at sassafrasmvy.org/youth-programs. They will be at Felix Neck for the second annual celebration and commemoration of Indigenous Peoples Day in October; more details to follow as they become available. They also offer an “Indigenous Awareness Training” for organizations and individuals. This training is done in groups of 12.

The town of West Tisbury is about to undertake a major renovation of Howes House, the headquarters of the Up-Island Council on Aging (UICOA) that provides senior services for Aquinnah. The town’s building committee is asking for volunteers to participate in a focus group to share their thoughts about what the building’s space needs might or should be in the years to come. The focus group meetings are being held during the week of Oct. 3 through 8, with a variety of morning and late afternoon sessions. If you have opinions about this topic and would like to participate, please email hhfocusgroup2022@gmail.com.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the M.V. Film Center, there will be an Older Adult Transportation Summit, with many nonprofits participating to help create solutions for Island seniors. Come to the Film Center at 7 pm, or sign on via Zoom; email ctrish@hamv.org for the link.

The Gay Head 10K road race is happening on Sunday, Oct. 2. There is also a kids fun run option around the Aquinnah Circle this year; registration is online at gayhead10k.com.

You never know what you are going to see in Aquinnah. Over Labor Day weekend, as I was sitting with friends enjoying the last perfect beach days of the summer, Juniper Ezanno said, “I think that guy down there is going to propose.” Sure enough, just past the rusty river, a tidily dressed young man (who we later found out was named Jeremy) got down on one knee and proposed to a lovely young woman named Phoebe. Luckily, he did not drop the ring in the sand, and even more luckily, she said “Yes.” People around them clapped, as did we as they came down the beach. Jeremy had the foresight to hire photographer Randi Baird to document the event, so we got to witness most of their “just engaged” time. We found out that Jeremy had picked out the ring himself (he did well), and that Phoebe had a suspicion that he was going to propose, but we didn’t learn what tipped her off. Certainly, getting engaged on Philbin is a great start to any marriage.

Sophia Welch and Kyle Colter’s new son has a name, and it is Clay Colter. I heard that everyone is doing well, and that big sister Ocie is taking her role very seriously. Happy birthday to Ona Ignacio, who celebrates on Friday, Sept. 16!

If you have any Aquinnah Town Column suggestions, email Molly Purves, mlpurves@yahoo.com.