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Old Whaling Church

Whaling Church1-resized-196Have the kids not come up with a theme for “What I Did on my Summer Vacation”, or are you just not up to another day at the beach? The Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, in partnership with the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, have come up with a solution to not only these dilemmas, but many others as well. Grab the family or a friend, buy a $15 ticket for entrance to their Edgartown properties, and spend an educational and fun day soaking in some of Martha’s Vineyard’s past and present.

The pass will get you into The Martha’s Vineyard Museum, where you could easily spend the entire day making your way through the historical objects, documents, books, photographs, paintings and exhibits.

You can also enjoy The Old Whaling Church on Main Street. It is a magnificent Greek Revival structure, originally built for the Methodist whaling captains and which now serves a perfect venue for weddings, concerts, and lectures.

Next to the church, stop in at The Dr. Daniel Fisher House, an elegant1840 Federal style residence, now used for private parties, and many of the receptions for the church’s weddings.

Stroll through the manicured, vast grounds back to The Vincent House, the Island’s oldest residence, which has been restored to its original beauty with period antiques that represent life on Martha’s Vineyard during the last four centuries.

Now make your way to the harbor and peruse the exquisite art of Island artists at The Old Sculpin Gallery, which is also a museum and historic property. In other lives it has been a sail loft, a grain store, a whale oil factory, and a boat builder’s shed. Sounds like a haven for interesting and talented ghosts to me!

Finish your tour by following the harbor down North Water Street, past all the stately old whaling captain’s homes, to The Edgartown Lighthouse, built in 1881 to safely guide the whalers back home. It’s a delightfully peaceful spot to end and reflect on your new appreciation of Martha’s Vineyard history and lore.

Editor’s Note: The Colonial Inn is offerring a Martha’s Vineyard History Package for fall that combines all of the above with 2 nights room accomodations for 2, continental breakfast, and a 2 1/2 hour narrated bus tour of the entire island.  It’s a great value!

The Best Things to Do in Martha’s Vineyard for Solo Travelers
What to Know about the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival
Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard

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It is the Holiday Season again, and with Thanksgiving behind us, the next big event on Martha’s Vineyard is “Christmas in Edgartown”.

Let me say up front that I am…less than enthusiastic, shall we say…of the Christmas season. I have an incredible dislike of commercial jingles, (did they start in mid-October this year? Curses…), smarmy holiday TV specials infuriate me and flamboyant decorating drives me nuts. I like a holiday of quiet reflection in keeping with my faith; I enjoy quality time with family without all the madness of shopping and messages of greed that assault us. I never achieve this, so I become a GrinchTM.

I know where this comes from. My mother is a very religious woman and every year, she vows to organize herself with her holiday crafts and gift ideas well beforetime and every year plans more than she can possibly accomplish. She wants so much to have a quiet holiday that every misstep in the schedule causes frustration and anxiety. Therefore, she cancels it.

From when I was maybe eight or nine years old until…well…two or three years ago, actually, my Mom cancels Christmas. All of Christmas, mind you. No half measures here. Dinners, cookies, trees lights, gifts…you name it, she’s done with it. This starts anywhere from the end of September and last until two days before Christmas. We always HAVE Christmas, but the three months of ranting cancellations have perpetually dampened my Holiday Cheer.

Genetically, I tend toward this pattern, but I have an almost two-year old girl-baby. She loves Christmas. The photo shows her at the Wharf Pub last year at the Breakfast with Santa event. She doesn’t look very enthused about it, but THIS year…well, from talking with her, she’s ready this time. (Video evidence of this years trip to the Christmas Loft store tends to make me doubt this claim…but we will see!)

(If your browser won’t display this video, click here to open a new window.)

Kate’s enthusiasm for Christmas this year and participating in last Christmas in Edgartown events last year are slowly chipping away at my Fortress of Grinchitude.

Edgartown is beautiful in so many ways, throughout the entire year, but during the ‘Christmas’ weekend December 11th – 13th, the town becomes truly magical.

The Edgartown Board of Trade organizes the weekends schedule the weekend, and posts aCalendar of Events. So many Inns and shops participate that there are very few places where there is no sparkly-wonderment to be found.

The excitement for that weekend is evident. Reservations requests for available Suites to rent for that weekend have been coming for months. The Edgartown Residence Club is participating in the Inns of Edgartown Tour on Friday and Saturday from 2-4PM.

From the lighting of the Edgartown Lighthouse to hayrides from Main Street to the end of Water Street, there are free events that are great fun for all ages. (Even I enjoyed seeing Santa cruise into town on a fire engine during the Saturday morning parade down Main Street.)

Several events, like the Felix Neck gingerbread cookie decorating or Donaroma’s wreath making workshop, have a fee charged for the cost of the materials.

Some events have entry fees that support the organization’s event. The Minniesinger’s concerts on Friday and Saturday are a longstanding tradition on the island, and the kids put a lot of hard work into each production. A Holiday Soiree at the Daniel Fisher House benefits the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust.

For those of you who are bold advocates of a particular charitable organization now is your chance to call the shots! All you have to do is win the 4th Annual Cookie Tasting event at Espresso Love. The event proceeds go to the winner’s choice.

The Dickens Village display at the Point Way Inn from 11AM to 5PM and the Faith Community Church’s Live Nativity on the steps of the Old Whaling Church on Saturday will immerse passersby in scenes of Christmas tradition.

There is too much going on that weekend to pass it by.

My GrinchyTM heart may not end up two sizes too small that weekend.

 

The Best Things to Do in Martha’s Vineyard for Solo Travelers
What to Know about the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival
Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard

There are plenty of sounds I associate with the Vineyard. A few are annoying (motorcycles without mufflers and loud cell phone conversations) but most are enticing: sea gulls calling, waves crashing on the shore, the bells of the Old Whaling Church peeling, and children laughing. And lest I forget, the call of, “Your table is ready!” at Sharky’s Cantina.

One of my favorite sounds is named after a sound that can’t be heard. Sound confusing?

The span of water separating Martha’s Vineyard from the Elizabeth Islands is called Vineyard Sound. When I hear that name, however, I think of the melodious tones of the a capella singing group of that name that graces the Island every summer with songs and good times.

Begun in 1992, The Vineyard Sound consists of a group of college students, changing each year, who summer on the Vineyard and literally sing for their suppers. The 2009 edition consists of ten gentlemen who will perform four nights a week at locations around the island.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard them. My wife and I were simply strolling the streets of Edgartown one sultry summer night back in 1994. In the distance we heard harmonizations that could be aptly described as enthralling. Up Water Street came the members of The Vineyard Sound like vocal Pied Pipers leading a large band of followers who had been caught up in their magical sounds. Soon we were among them.

The makeup of the group has metamorphosed many times over the years, but the quality and style remain consistently virtuosic. Each year, they manage to recruit an incredibly capable, charismatic crew of collegians. They sing classics and current tunes, both funky and funny. An evening with this troupe will have you laughing, toe-tapping, and maybe even joining in.

Warning: Take in a single concert and you’ll want to hear them again and again. Picking up one of their CD’s, always available at their shows, is a proven antidote to Vineyard Sound withdrawal!

Image courtesy of  The Vineyard Sound.

 

The Best Things to Do in Martha’s Vineyard for Solo Travelers
What to Know about the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival
Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
4th-of-July-by-CitySteph
4th of July by City Steph

You can’t come to Martha’s Vineyard without noticing the vast number of different accents you encounter in your day – the girl at the coffee shop is Russian, the guy who drives the cab is from Bulgaria, your housekeeper is Jamaican and thishotel manager is Scottish. To many, it’s part of what makes the Vineyard so special – almost everyone is from somewhere else and bring with them their own traditions and perspectives while adopting a good measure of the local culture.

This weekend will be my 11th July 4th celebration – 10th on Martha’s Vineyard. In Scotland, holidays are still mostly the old Christian calendar holidays with a couple of ‘Bank Holidays’ thrown in (basically an administrative day off for the whole country), so I have come to love my American holidays – Memorial Day to celebrate those who protect and have protected, Labor Day for the workers, Thanksgiving reminds us all how lucky we are, but my favorite of all has to be 4th of July!

On my 1st July 4th on Martha’s Vineyard I was lucky enough to be swept up by my American colleague, “Let me show you all the fun of a real July 4th!” Well, I’m pretty game for an adventure, so I put myself in her hands and boy am I glad that I did!

The 1st stop was the lawn of the Old Whaling Church for a good old fashioned BBQ. Burgers, dogs with all the fixins’, kids screaming and laughing, parents chasing, grandparents sitting back and enjoying – good old family fun!

Down to North Water Street next for ice cream from my favorite spot, Mad Martha’s – voted the Best of the Vineyard for several years, and in the Top 10 in the USA Today a few years ago – it really is a fantastic place – cones, cups, sundaes, toppings – everything a dessert lover could wish for.

So, ice cream in one hand and flag in the other, we found a perch on the steps of theColonial Inn courtyard to watch the parade – and oh, what a parade it is! Having never seen a big city parade, my frame of reference is limited, but I am assured it is small town Americana at its best. The parade starts at 5ish (remember – you’re on Vineyard Time) and confuses many by looping through town in the opposite direction to the usual traffic flow. It starts at Edgartown Elementary School, takes a Left at Pease Point Way and loops behind the town center to head along North Water Street in the ‘opposite’ direction and then UP Main Street.

The Selectmen from all the towns lead off in antique vehicles, many local businesses decorate floats with many varied themes, lots of kids sports teams and other non-profits have tons of fun entertaining the crowds – skaters, dancers, musicians, gymnasts and many others besides. The towns’ fire trucks are decked out, the Island Veterans always get a huge cheer and imagine my surprise when a group of men in kilts and ladies in tartan processed by followed by a Bagpipe Band – did they do this just to make me feel a part of the fun? Alas no, it’s the local Scottish Society (although it sure did make it all feel a bit more familiar).

After the fun of the parade we took a break, enjoyed the great atmosphere in town and then headed up to Lighthouse Beach to stake out our spot for the fireworks. They are set off from a barge just off-shore of the Lighthouse, in the outer harbor, so the beach is really the best vantage point, although you can see them from other locations a bit farther out. They usually start around 8.30 – 9pm (once it’s dark enough) and the show never disappoints.

Who wouldn’t love this holiday!! The events continue this year, in the same way they did on my 1st year here – will we see you? What are you doing for the 4th?

 

The Best Things to Do in Martha’s Vineyard for Solo Travelers
What to Know about the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival
Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard