Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Marathon Week

It's been a week with so many highs and lows. Being a town on the Boston Marathon route has always given Framingham a special bond to this famed race, and when the tragic bombings occurred at the finish line, it felt to me in some way very personal. I wondered if any of the people I had watched and cheered for as they ran through downtown Framingham were among the injured.

It began as a beautiful spring day. Framingham Downtown Renaissance, with its irrepressible executive director Holli Andrews, teamed up with Framingham State University to produce Marathon Fest 2013, an event that made what's normally one of the most festive days downtown all year even more special, with music, food, and other activities like sign-making to help cheer on the runners. I spent the morning walking up and down the race route on Waverly Street, taking photos, greeting friends, cheering for the runners, and smiling at how this day brought together so many of the distinctive groups of people that make up Framingham.  And it was fitting, I thought, that this diverse town was heartily welcoming the thousands of runners that streamed past, who represented so many different parts of the world, and so many walks of life.

The bombings at the finish line shocked and saddened us all, but Framingham wiped away its tears quickly and responded with compassion. Our local microbrewery, Jack's Abby Brewing, with little more than their Facebook page and sheer determination, held an amazing beer tasting fundraiser just two days after the marathon for victims of the bombing, at The Tavern on Irving Street. The line to get in stretched out the door, as people from Framingham, all over Metrowest, and beyond, packed the pub to sample beers donated by 25 different breweries from all over New England. When the last pint had been tapped, over $8,000 had been raised for One Fund Boston, the principal charity that was established to raise money for the victims in the wake of the tragedy.

And the next evening, Thursday, hundreds of town residents showed up outside the Memorial Building, a short walk from the marathon route, for a candlelight vigil, one of the many held in the Boston area and in other cities and towns across the country.

On Friday, the tension ran high as one of the suspected bombers was killed in a firefight with law enforcement, and a manhunt and lockdown at an unprecedented level in the Boston area ensued until the second suspect was apprehended in the early evening.

So while this has been a roller coaster of a week emotionally, it is ending with healing already underway because of the selflessness and compassion of so many people, and a sense of justice because the perpetrators were tracked down and captured so quickly.

And next Patriots' Day, you'll find me downtown again, clapping and yelling even louder as the runners pass through Framingham.