Every few years I post about my favorite summer event on Martha’s Vineyard…
Illumination Night this year is Wednesday, August 14, 2019
It has always been my favorite event of the summer… going to Illumination Night is a thrill for me no matter what my age.
I think I was 2 and 1/2 the first time I went to Illumination Night. I’m embarrassed to say that even with my annoyingly good memory, I don’t remember it. My first memory of Illumination Night involves wearing a particularly pretty dress so I’m thinking I was around three or four, which would have been around 1946.
My dad, mom, god-mother and I would have an early supper and then walk to the Campground. My dad and I would stroll around looking at all the beautifully decorated gingerbread houses while my mother and god-mother would chat with friends and relatives.
At 8 o’clock the Vineyard Haven Band would begin playing and the always fun community sing would start. Patriotic songs like, America The Beautiful, Yankee Doodle, Battle Hymn of the Republic are always stirring and emotional. It took me a couple of years to learn the words to all the songs and I still get messed up on a couple of the rounds like John Brown’s Baby. The band playing the Star Spangled Banner and the rousing Stars and Stripes Forever are always a crowd pleaser.
But as much fun as that was it was only a precursor to the main event. The Tabernacle and Campground go dark… the crowd cheers. The lighting of the first lantern and then all the gingerbread houses are simultaneously aglow with Japanese lanterns.
Everyone oohs and ahhs and stream out of the Tabernacle to walk through the magical fairyland the Campground has become. My dad would carry me on his shoulders so I could see everything… I felt like I could touch the stars.
After seeing all there was to see we’d head out onto Circuit Ave to either the Frosty Cottage for ice cream or Darling’s for popcorn, a tasty ending to a perfectly enchanting night.
No matter your age, Illumination Night is fun for everyone, I myself morph into an 8 year old.