01 May 2018

Finest Hour

Winston Churchill once famously inspired a nation when he reminded them, “Let us brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.” If Nantucket lasts for a thousand years, the coming generations will likely have many occasions that point to her “finest hour.” Scattered among the heroic stories of sea captains and whalers will be the seemingly trivial – albeit jovial – island festivals and gatherings that serve to unite the local community and welcome guests to Nantucket.
There’s no way to sugar coat it folks – it’s been a rough winter. From the multiple storms that whipped us sideways causing street flooding and ruptured sewer lines, to the lingering frigid temps and damp days that had us all dubbing these last few months the “winter that won’t end.” We confess we were a bit weary. But, we took our lead from the spring daffodils. They burrowed their stubborn heads through the crusty soil weeks ago (against all odds) and unfurled their bright yellow and white petals just in time for their premiere appearance at the Annual Daffodil Festival this past weekend.
My husband and I were away for a long weekend earlier this month, leaving behind a grey island without a single sign of spring. When we returned just 5 short days later, we were greeted by an entire sea of yellow adorning the front of our home and various daffodil beds in bloom throughout the island. It’s absolutely amazing how the site of those colorful little blossoms can instantly alter perspective and promote optimism…and literally motivate an entire island to follow suit. Within days, storefronts, homes and island residents were decked out in their yellow-finest ready to celebrate spring and present Nantucket in her best light for Daffodil Weekend.
To the average island visitor or summer resident returning for the first time this year, it might have appeared as just another festive Nantucket celebration. To those of us who live and work here year-round, it humbly felt a bit like the Grey Lady’s finest hour. Adorned in a sea of yellow, the island and her people did what they do best after some difficulty…we threw a party. And what a party it was! Antique cars and shiny Broncos adorned with yellow wreaths and yellow-clad revelers honked their horns and blared festive tunes as they snaked through downtown and made their way to Sconset for the annual Daffy picnic. The décor, elaborate food displays and creative costumes were impressive, but it was the enthusiasm and eternal optimism of the people themselves that brought sunshine to the Grey Lady. Old Man Winter is now officially in the rearview mirror.
There are more festivals in the coming weeks to showcase the wide range of ways to celebrate the island. The Nantucket Wine Festival begins May 16, the famed FIGAWI race takes place Memorial Day weekend. The Nantucket Book Festival and Nantucket Film Festival in June are great opportunities to come enjoy the arts. Whenever you choose to visit, you can be sure the island is dressed up in her summer finest and ready to greet guests with open arms and a smile.
Show Time!
Shellie Dunlap  
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