Saturday, 2:15 PM
Fenway Park becomes federal court for citizenship ceremony
(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
By Maria Sacchetti and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
The confines of Fenway Park have been venerated in New England for almost a century. This afternoon, the ballpark took on an entirely new meaning when a judge consecrated it as a temporary federal court.
Fenway hosted its first naturalization ceremony as 3,032 immigrants stood in the box and loge seats along the first base line and became new citizens. Stretching from home plate into right field, they hailed from 140 countries, wearing suits and Sunday dresses, bright African robes and lightly colored head scarves. One type of clothing, however, was conspicuously absent -- not a single Red Sox hat, T-shirt, or jersey could be seen in the crowd, which may be a first for the ballpark.
"We are honored to welcome you to Fenway, the United States of America, and to Red Sox Nation," said Meg Vaillancourt, senior vice president for corporate relations and executive director of the Red Sox Foundation. "From all of us, welcome home."
The hourlong ceremony was led by US District Judge Patti Saris, who wore her black robe and spoke to the group from a temporary stage that had been erected over the Red Sox dugout. Saris was joined on the dais by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Red Sox World Series trophies from 2004 and 2007.
Officials decided to hold the ceremony at Fenway after an impending increase in fees sparked a surge in citizenship applications, and a large space was needed for the crowd. For this particular group, Fenway may have been the perfect venue for another reason: The largest number of new citizens hailed from the Dominican Republic, the homeland of David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and other Red Sox legends that helped the team win those two Word Series.
In her remarks, Saris shared her own take on Fenway's new role as a federal court.
"Usually, in my courtroom one side wins and one side loses," she said. "Here, everyone wins."
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