Posts Tagged ‘Illumination night’

Illumination Night. Campground. Oak Bluffs, Mass. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Illumination Night. Campground. Oak Bluffs, Mass. By Paul Goldfinger ©  Click left for take out.


The Martha’s Vineyard Campground in Oak Bluffs  was established by Methodists in 1860.

They have  gingerbread cottages, a museum, an iron Tabernacle, and are on the National Historic Register.

Illumination Night occurs once each summer.  The oriental motif is part of their traditions. Their Illumination Night is the mother of all such events.


tabernacle. jpg

Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. Photo by the Martha’s Vineyard CMA.

This is how the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association describes itself:

“The Tabernacle continues to exist as a “Beacon to All” and continues to serve as a religious and cultural center for the residents of the Campground, Oak Bluffs and the Island itself. It is the largest venue on the Vineyard and, with its marvelous acoustics and beautiful setting, local groups, musical groups, individual performers, theater groups, choruses and even the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra find enthusiastic audiences. The MVCMA offers a wide variety of cultural and religious programs throughout the summer season (July and August.)”


Oak Bluffs campground. Internet photo.


In 2014, Ocean Grove resurrected its own Illumination Night, a festive event that used to happen on Wesley Lake each summer, about a century ago, with large crowds, lights, and many boats.

The OGCMA’s latest edition of Illumination Night is held in Auditorium Square Park, but it’s not clear if this will be a religious event or a celebration for everyone.

Sometimes they seem to confuse the two, as occurred during the Fountain dedication last summer.

The reprise edition in the Grove was in 2014.

It is the sort of event that can bring “community” back into the OG vocabulary.



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This years Illumination night was not as well attended as last year’s.  Jean was there.

She reports, “Illumination night was tonight in Auditorium Park. There was food, music, and children running around enjoying the Summer night.”

She got a video of some kids who take the “illumination” part seriously:



CATHY RIGBY:  From Peter Pan


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Illumination Night 2017. 8/4/17. Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photo © Click to enlarge.

This is the third time that Illumination Night, of modern times, was held in Ocean Grove at Auditorium Square Park. It lasted from 8 pm to 10 pm, and the good news is that a fairly large crowd (perhaps 200 people or more)  was present indicating that the town needs more “down home” outdoors community events for those who live here and/or vacation here, in the summertime.

What we have now in town  (putting aside the plentiful CMA religious-based activities ) are the varieties of eating parties: fish and chips, BBQ, and ice cream plus the sheer joy of the postcard show and the musical  pleasures of the Summer Band concerts.

The Township takes no interest in promoting community pride and cohesiveness for residents through Ocean Grove events, and neither do the organized OG groups such as the Home Groaners , the Chamber, and the HSOG.

Some of the tents were illuminated. Paul Goldfinger photo 8/4/17 ©

But the CMA came through with last night’s event, and the attendees, people of all ages, seemed to have a good time.

The crowd was busy lining up for food (at a price) while listening to music which was fairly subdued.  It was difficult to see the food in the dark. The kids were having a good time running around wearing glowing hoops, and many chat groups formed of people who seemed to know each other. Some brought chairs while others ate while sitting on the steps of the Youth Temple.

One surprise bonus was that the Auditorium was open, and visitors could walk in and sit down—a real treat because Gordon Turk and Maestro Jason Tramm were rehearsing the Ocean Grove Choir.

Visitors sat around the Christmas tree eating, watching the bands, and enjoying the kids. Paul Goldfinger photograph © 8/4/17

The funny thing is that this Illumination Night was barely illuminated.  It was dark once the sun went down.  Why are we having an illumination party in the dark?  There were no organized events, unless you count milling about as a special activity, and there also were the few couples who were attempting some slow dancing to a missing rhythm.   What this Illumination Night needs are more lumens, a happy, lively band that is totally awake, and some organized events, at least for the kids.

OG kids glow in the dark. Jean Bredin photograph © 8/4/17 Blogfinger.net staff.


C’mon lady, light my fire!
By Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff. ©

There is no historic precedent that would guide  how such an event should be done. In OG it has always been sponsored by the CMA, but the modern-day model seems to be improvised by the staff at the Hub.  There was no Hub in the 19th century.  Back then, the OG version was a water park celebration with many brightly lit boats floating on Wesley Lake and with thousands of people standing by on the shores.

In Martha’s Vineyard, which is the modern prototype, they still look forward to gathering in their Tabernacle and having a sing-a-long with a vociferous band and mostly patriotic music.

Illumination Night. Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. Pinterest photo.

There is no religious component in Oak Bluffs as there was last night with a Christian band performing  in that genre.   And the Oak Bluffs decorations are bright and plentiful, and they even have a tradition of turning on the lights while everyone oohs and ahs.  They leave their decorations up for two weeks, and that is probably the only tourist based activity in that lovely residential town.

Oak Bluffs sing-a-long for Illumination Night

The 21st century version in the Grove, based on 2016 and last night, seems to be successful despite itself, indicating that demand exceeds the supply of festiveness for Illumination Night in OG.

So perhaps the CMA will try to add more life to the event next year, taking  advantage of all the evident community interest.  How about a suggestion box at The Hub and a better budget for lighting the park?  How about some comments here suggesting ways to improve this worthwhile summer event for 2018.


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