Oak Bluffs: Fourth of July, Island Community Chorus, M.V. Polar Bears, and history tours

—MV Times

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” –Abraham Lincoln

The Fourth of July is upon us! The parade in Edgartown is on Tuesday the 4th at 5 pm; find your favorite spot to enjoy this Island tradition. My favorite part of the parade is always the Camp Jabberwocky campers and counselors, who go all in for fun and entertainment. But all the floats and marchers represent groups and organizations across the Island, and it’s always a great parade. There will be burgers and hot dogs on the grill on the lawn of the Daniel Fisher, and the fireworks will shoot up over the harbor after sundown.

My 10-year-old grandson was discussing the Pledge of Allegiance with me. He told me that at his school, they say it every day. He can also see that there is not liberty and justice for all in our country, and he wonders why all the people who say it every day don’t do something about that. Very wise fourth grader! I told him that it’s up to people like him who can see it to change it.

I was looking up Fourth of July birthdays, and found some interesting ones. Stephen Foster, music composer, was a Fourth of July baby. So were Calvin Coolidge, Neil Simon, Bill Withers, and Ron Kovic (Vietnam Veteran turned antiwar activist, whose autobiography was made into the movie “Born on the Fourth of July”).

“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” was a famous and powerful speech given by Frederick Douglass in 1852 in Rochester, N.Y. For 24 years, the speech has been read on the beach in Oak Bluffs by volunteer readers, organized by Renaissance House. The Speech on the Beach event begins at 4 pm on July 4, with a potluck picnic at Inkwell Beach. If you would like to participate as a reader, contact renaissancehse@aol.com. Or just bring your chair to the beach to witness and listen to this important piece of American history.

Reminder: The Island Community Chorus will perform its 2023 summer concert, “America in Song” on Saturday, July 1, at 8 pm at the Tabernacle. The chorus has been rehearsing under the direction of new director Bill Peek for this musical journey through American history. No charge for your seat, but a free-will offering will be taken. Can’t wait!

Featherstone kicks off musical Fridays with Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish on Friday, June 30. Tickets are available online each Friday for the next week. The music is from 6:30 to 8 pm; bring your lawn chairs and a picnic. Shoes are optional — dancing barefoot is allowed!

On Sunday evening, enjoy the Vineyard Haven Town Band at the Ocean Park bandstand. The free concert is 5:30-7:30 pm; bring your picnic, chairs, and blankets — and yes, kids and adults still march and dance around the bandstand.

Tuesday, July 4, marks opening day for the M.V. Polar Bears. In case you don’t know, the M.V. Polar Bears is an intergenerational, diverse, social group of people who are dedicated to health and wellness. The Polar Bears keep a tradition alive that began over 75 years ago, when African American summer workers would swim at 7:30 every morning at Inkwell Beach before heading to their long days of work. Today the morning ritual includes people from all over the Island, and visitors from all over the world who appreciate the healing power of ocean water and friendship. All you need is a bathing suit and towel; water shoes are also helpful.

Tom Dresser will be leading his popular tour of Oak Grove Cemetery on Saturday, July 1. Meet at the library front entrance (Pacific Avenue) at 9 am for the hour-long tour.

Tom will be talking about his newest book, “Martha’s Vineyard in the Roaring Twenties,” at the Chilmark library at 4 pm that day, and then again at the Tabernacle on Thursday, July 6, at 11 am. Tom has also created self-guided walking tours of Historic Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven Harbor. Each tour is $10, accessible on your phone on the “Built Story” app. Download the app, search “Historic Oak Bluffs,” pay the fee, and you can take the tour. It’s very informative and really fun!

Happy birthday to Donna Leon on June 30, and happy anniversary to Judy and Roger Thomas! On July 1, we send birthday wishes to Catherine Doiron and Madeline Alley. July 2 is Lexi Loyott’s day, and Rich Michelson celebrates on July 3, along with Jeannie DelGiudice. On the 5th, birthday balloons go to Nick Diodati and Suzanne Rollins, while the Dalai Lama celebrates on July 6.

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If you have any Oak Bluffs Town Column suggestions, email Joanne Lambert, joannelamber@gmail.com.