Behind the wheel and the grill in Aquinnah


Aquinnah locals inflated Uncle Sam; festooned the old Chevy in red, white, and blue; and followed fire trucks to the Cliffs on the Fourth of July.

The Vineyard’s smallest town held its 23rd annual holiday parade on Thursday morning, which kicked off at Old South Road and Moshup Trail, and led up to the Aquinnah Cliffs.

Aquinnah locals of all ages, decked out in the colors of the flag, shouted to family and friends along the parade trail, waved miniature U.S. flags, and cheered for antique automobiles and town emergency vehicles.

Tom Murphy, a member of the town select board, has organized the celebration every year. He told The Times that this year’s festivities were a success. “It was an amazing celebration of community,” he said, also noting a strong turnout.

Murphy also served as a judge on Thursday — he and Police Chief Randhi Belain form the committee to select the day’s best float. “It goes to the float who puts in the most patriotic theme and effort,” Murphy explained.

This year’s winning vehicle belonged to Cori DiPietro, who received the first-place trophy for a Ford Raptor pickup featuring an inflatable bald eagle. DiPietro previously won the contest in 2020 for her “Nurse Float,” topped with a giant nurse’s cap.

“She had a very patriotic theme to her vehicle,” Murphy said of DiPietro. “It was very well decorated, had a political theme to it, and had a statue of an American eagle and a variety of patriotic things.”

It wasn’t an easy decision, however. “It was tough to decide,” Murphy admitted on Friday. “Everyone else came in second. It was a tie for second between five other floats.”

Aquinnah’s paraders then became picnickers at the town’s yearly Fourth of July feast, held outside at the Cultural Center. This year’s event, in an improvement on last year’s, provided tables for attendees.

The traditional holiday fare was provided by local couple Jeff and Vika Duarte of Fire Catering. The crowd came up to their tent to pick out hamburgers, barbecued chicken, brownies, watermelon, and more.

Duarte, who had been preparing food since 7 am, told The Times that afternoon that he had served 150. “It’s a great thing to celebrate,” he said of the Fourth.

“It’s great to see the community together,” he added. “Being a tribal person, it’s a great way to get to be around the nontribal people in town. Everyone gets along over a plate of food.”