August is the month for everything on the island, the Fireworks, Illumination Night, and the Fair all happen in August.

When we go to the fireworks, we always pack a picnic: fried chicken (the secret to really crisp fried chicken, in case you don’t already know, is to soak it in milk for an hour before you dredge it in flour and fry it in canola oil–makes a huge difference!), coleslaw (with chunks of juicy pineapple), carrot and celery sticks, a blue mason jar of gin and tonics (with limes), sparkling water mixed with lemonade, cheese and apple slices, a box of Chilmark chocolates — no one is going to go hungry — plus our chairs, blankets, towels, jackets, and of course three cameras, and all our friends!  (That’s where you come in.)  So, off we go, brilliant Joe and his cart on wheels spontaneously getting ready to go to the park to meet our friends for the fireworks!

We trek the half-mile from our parking place through the narrow lanes under shady trees in the Campground, past all the little gingerbread cottages, over to Ocean Park, where the crowd is beginning to gather on the lawn around the bandstand.  We find our perfect spot on  little knoll, spread our blankets, greet our friends who’ve brought six pizzas from Giordanos in Oak Bluffs, two ice chests, and lobster rolls!  We are ready!

Us “wise people of goodwill” settle in to eat our picnic dinners and listen to the band as dark begins to fall and the excitement builds.  The Oak Bluffs Fire Department puts these fireworks on every August for whoever wants to come (they do this wonderful thing with the help of donations).  There are parties on every porch of the “Grand Ladies,” the beautiful old Victorian houses you see in the background that overlook the park — and the park overlooks the sea.  Kids break open lightsticks, the band tunes up, and now

The Vineyard Haven Band plays the best old music, the same songs they’ve played for generations,  It’s a Grand Old Flag and Yankee Doodle Dandy  and so many more. The tradition is for the mom’s and dad’s to dance ’round and ’round the bandstand with their children (twirling their lightsticks as they go) as the “band plays on.”  It’s a fun way to wait (forever) for the sun to go seriously down, the sky to go completely black, so the fireworks can begin.  The kids are so excited, but so are the adults!  Two, I know of, especially. 

And finally, at 9 pm, on a warm, balmy, windless evening next to the sea; you lean back in your chair, kick way back because the show has begun.

I could show you this better if Youtube was working for me this morning because I took some good videos…but since it isn’t…at least you are saved from the massive booms these “bombs bursting in air” were making!  But what you’re missing are the ooohs and aaahs, the clapping, the screaming, the whooping, and appreciative yelling from the crowd. That’s the good part!


The light filled the sky above us.

Squealing and shrieking is occurring….I am sinking deeper into my chair from the attack of the big fireworks right over my head.

Which keep getting bigger; taking up the entire space of an eye, from one edge of your peripheral vision to the other!


The light from the fireworks reflects on the faces of the crowd in this massive shared experience of time-honored tradition . . . little kids will never forget it . . . .

It’s impossible to do justice to the finale with still photos.  It was so wild I couldn’t even leave the camera on ’til the end, I had to turn it off in order to hide my face and scream. Joe said it felt like they were going to eat us!  It did!  They were so close!  If Youtube comes up, I’ll add in a video of it later so you can see.  I really think you will scream too. (Thereby proving I am not the weenie we all know I am, and normal, like you!)

After the adrenalin had settled down, we packed up and wheeled our cart back to the car under a huge yellow half-moon, and joined the long snaky trail of red tail lights winding along the shore to home.  And that was it, another year in the life of the Oak Bluffs Fireworks on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  I hope you enjoyed our little trip.  I love being able to take you along.  

P.S.  Guess what, I just got access to youtube!   (If you really want to know how it felt, turn out all your lights, lay on your back, and put the computer screen about three inches from your face!)

13 Responses to Fireworks

  1. Joan Lesmeister says:

    What a celebration! Love it! Tonight after enjoying the Blue Moon, I’m going to “lay on my back & hold the computer screen 3″ from my face” for the full effect! Thank you! xoxoxo

  2. Bonnie from Iowa says:

    What a beautiful place to have a picnic and fireworks! Looks like so much fun!

    I love everything about a blue moon……the songs, the words, the feeling of the olden days……the serenity. We had an old family friend who would had a player piano that had many rolls of good songs like Shine on Harvest Moon, And the Band played On, etc. I learned the words as a young five year old and have never forgotten them or her. Life was good back then!

  3. Lynn Maust says:

    this is just the most fun post of all……love you for sharing all your delights, Susan!

  4. Connie Sue says:

    I am just captivated by the beauty that surrounds you!!

  5. Adriana says:

    Hi there! Are the fireworks on July 4th?

    • sbranch says:

      Not those near the bandstand, those are in August. But we do have fireworks on the 4th — those are in Edgartown.

  6. Trish Elliott says:

    Hello Susan,

    I so enjoyed the fireworks at Martha’s Vineyard! It is quit the celebration. I enjoy your blog and pictures! I have been a follower for so long and never comment, for I know how busy you are and I just want to thank you, for your calendars,cookbooks,drawings,teacups and sharing your wonderful adventures. We are retired to Tucson,Az. and I do so miss the beauty of the flowers of back east. But the desert has it’s own beauty, but I so enjoy your flowers and love to hear of your picket fence garden. I grew up having a huge garden, picked our food daily from the garden and then did harvest time. But we are retired and I know we were so blessed to live in the times that we did.

    Just wanted to say thanks for sharing and keeping all he beauty that surrounds us!

    God’s Blessing

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