It seemed like the world stood still around the region this afternoon as people broke from their usual routines to observe a moment of silence in memory of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Several hundred people gathered in a moment. Joan Ferraro was part of the rush, arriving cold from the Millennium Bostonian Hotel.
“How could I not come?” asked Ferraro of Swampscott as she used her forefinger to catch a tear in the corner of her eye. “It’s special to all of us.”
The bell atop Faneuil Hall began to toll aand all other noise ceased. People stood motionless on the cobblestones. Some folded their hands in prayer. Others looked down. A family walking with a stroller stopped in mid-stride. Outside Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant, a circle of people held hands.
Jim Mayo, 54, bowed his head as he clutched a white plastic bag from the MIT Coop which contained a T-shirt for his son in California. His wife, Mary Jo, 53, held onto her husband at his elbow.
“We wanted to be somewhere with other people for this,” said Jim Mayo, who was visiting from Martinez, a suburb of San Francisco. “We wanted to show solidarity.”
A thousand people gathered at Boylston and Berkeley streets in Boston’s Back Bay section, the site of a makeshift memorial for victims who were killed at the finish line in the explosion exactly a week ago, at 2:50 p.m. on the afternoon of April 15.
People were supposed to stand in silence for one minute, but it stretched into 20.
At 3:10, they broke into applause and slowly filtered away from the scene.
In Downtown Crossing, pedestrians stopped mid-sidewalk and stood silently, with hands folded. A small crowd gathered at the Irish Famine Memorial.
Tom Hamilton, a 43-year-old video producer from Weymouth, cut short a cellphone call and looked up at the Old South Meeting House, where, he said a friend of his had helped restore the bell.
“It’s the absolute least thing we could all do,” Hamilton said of the pause.
On the MIT campus in Cambridge, a brilliant sun shone down as hundreds of students, faculty, and staff lined Vassar Street from Massachusetts Avenue to Main Street in memory of MIT police Officer Sean Collier. He was fatally shot on campus Thursday night, allegedly by the Marathon bombers.
With arms linked, members of the university community lined both sides of the open plaza between the Koch Institute and the Stata Center, where a memorial of flowers, American flags, and chalk messages stood near the site where Collier was killed as he sat in cruiser.
“He’s made Wilmington proud and he’s made MIT proud, and made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our nation safe,” said Jennifer Earls, an MIT employee who graduated with Collier from Wilmington High School.
At the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common, students from the New England Conservatory played Beethoven’s funeral march, the second movement of his third symphony, to a crowd of about 100 bystanders. The audience was visibly moved. One man took off his FBI cap in a gesture of respectful mourning. A young woman appeared to fight tears. The bells of the Park Street Church pealed in the background.
“We’re in this amazing city ... and this is something we can bring to help Boston with its healing, so we decided to bring the symphony to you today,” Caroline Scharr, a student of oboe performance, told the crowd.
Elected officials, staff, and others stood on the steps of the State House, where the sun gleamed off the golden dome.
At the end, Patrick looked up, thanked the crowd and said, “God bless the people of Massachusetts. Boston strong.”
Rob Peterson, an aide to State Representative Kenneth Gordon, Democrat of Bedford, said he showed up because it was an opportunity “to show the people of Boston as well as the people of the Commonwealth that we stand together.”
The moment of silence stretched from one minute to six at Peabody Square in Boston’s Ashmont neighborhood, where Martin Richard, 8, the youngest victim of the blast lived.
The historic clock there had been stopped at 2:50 p.m. since the bombings that struck April 15 at that time. Clock winder Jeffrey Gonyeau stepped up to the clock at 2:50 p.m. and wound it so it would start running again, then stepped away, next to US Senator Elizabeth Warren and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
About 150 residents stood silently until Menino’s security officer took his wheelchair and quietly turned it toward his car.
Menino spoke to reporters afterwards, saying he was personally opposed to the death penalty but he might reconsider it in this case.
“Boston is healing,” he said. “I’ve never seen Boston stronger than it is today. We’re all working together as a community. … Folks [from out of town] have come up to me and said, ‘Gee, wow, what a different city we are’ – we’re a city that works together. I’m so proud of the people who live in our city, you know, and they really supported each other during this difficult time – five days – a lot of tension.”
Three people were killed and more than 170 were injured in the twin blasts. The blasts shook the region, as did the violent, chaotic events several days later when one police officer was killed and one was wounded, while one suspect was killed and a second was apprehended.