Fourth of July celebrations on Martha’s Vineyard

The annual Edgartown Fourth of July fireworks in 2015.

As we near this year’s Fourth of July, the Island is preparing for the annual activities that allow for celebration from morning until night.

The fourth annual reading of the Frederick Douglass speech “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro,” first presented on July 5, 1852, to the Rochester Anti-Slavery and Sewing Society, kicks things off a day early at the Federated Church in Edgartown. The reading takes place from 12 to 1:30 pm on Monday, July 3.

The Fourth of July festivities begin at 10 am with the Children’s Fourth of July parade in the Trinity Circle in Oak Bluffs, presented by the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Association. All children and their parents are invited to join the procession, and to cool down at the ice cream social under the tent when it finishes at 11 am. For more information, email

The annual parade in Edgartown is a Fourth of July favorite.

The Harbor View Hotel will host its annual lineup of patriotic events for the whole family, starting at 1 pm with a barbecue featuring lobster rolls, burgers, and a raw bar on the front lawn. Families can spend the afternoon enjoying Fourth-themed kids’ activities like the Family Dance-o-Rama and a David Welch Photography photo booth from 2 to 5 pm. The Joanne Cassidy Band will set a celebratory mood with live music at the hotel from 6:30 to 10:30 pm.

The Renaissance House will celebrate diversity and human rights with the 13th annual reading of Frederick Douglass’ historic speech at Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs at 4 pm. Historian, author, and longtime Island resident Jessica B. Harris will be a guest reader, and Islanders of all ages are invited to contribute for different sections of the address. Readers are requested to arrive by 3:30 pm. Email or call 917-747-0367 to find out more.

Other traditional favorites will begin in Edgartown at 5 pm with the annual Fourth of July Parade. The procession of floats, bands, and antique cars will set off from the intersection of West Tisbury Road and Pinehurst Road. It will make its way down Main Street, with a stop in front of the Old Whaling Church before continuing onto West Tisbury Road and finishing at the Edgartown School. The parade will accept participants until July 3 at noon. Those interested should call 508-627-6180.

Finally, the fireworks will set the Edgartown sky ablaze in red, white, and blue over the harbor at approximately 9 pm.