Saturday, 2:15 PM
On festive day, local traditions mix and mingle
(Globe staff photo/Yoon S. Byun)
Cameron Coppola, 8, of Newton cheers on Boston Marathon runners near Fenway Park with his face painted in Red Sox colors.
By Brian MacQuarrie, Globe Staff
Tom McConnon, an Acton native, stood Monday at what passes for the heart of the Hub on Patriots Day, his delectably divided passions on full, unembarrassed display as he waited for his wife to stride into Kenmore Square in her first stab at the world's oldest annual marathon.
McConnon hoisted a sign that had read "Go Red Sox," until he wisely crossed out the name of his favorite baseball team and replaced it with "Kristie," the name of his wife.
"We always joke where my loyalty lies -- my wife or the Red Sox," McConnon said, chuckling, from the Beacon Street sidewalk. "You know, it's first love, second love, that kind of thing."
A few hundred yards away, the overflow crowd at Fenway Park erupted in full-throated roar as catcher Jason Varitek launched a second-inning home run en route to a 12-1 rout of the Baltimore Orioles.
And so it went today, back and forth in a delicious example of sporting one-upmanship, as hundreds of thousands of smiling, festive people crammed into the chilly city to savor two of its most cherished, simultaneous traditions -- the Boston Marathon and Red Sox baseball.
Elsewhere, ersatz Redcoats took aim at make-believe Minutemen on Lexington Green to mark the opening shots of the Revolutionary War there 234 years ago.
Sam Linstead-Atkinson, 13, of Upton, came with his family to watch the mock battle for the fourth time. He was not let down. "It's really cool," he said. "They help us understand history."
And in Boston and at Concord, where the shot heard 'round the world was fired, Patriots Day parades served as reminders of the holiday's local and national importance.
A biting, cold headwind did little to tamp down the day's excitement. Loud cheers for the athletes, rumbling applause for the Sox, and the thwack of running shoes on asphalt turned the triangle containing the marathon course and Fenway Park into a canyon of thundering sound.
"It's a great time to be in Boston," said Rey Cruz, a 2000 graduate of Boston University, who stood near his alma mater to cheer on former classmate Jay Margolis. "Especially with the Red Sox in town, the Celtics, and the Bruins, it's just a wild weekend."
The celebration ranged from the raucous to the refined. Near St. Mary's Street in Brookline, Denise Breault of Arlington finished the last of her quiche as she savored the street scene behind a short fence.
For Breault, who complemented her quiche with a glass of "passion ice tea," today marked the second year she's watched the marathon this way. The attraction? "Just the general excitement and being with friends," she said.
On Beacon Street, the scene gained energy as the runners made their way from Hopkinton. Fathers lifted children on their shoulders, packs of college students shouted encouragement, and marathoners used the support as motivation as they willed themselves to the finish at Copley Square.
The day's sporting menu was even enjoyable vicariously. Just ask Jim Barry of Quincy, who quaffed a Bud Light al fresco as he sat at an outdoor table at the Cask 'n Flagon beside Fenway Park.
"It's not that bad, " Barry said of the brisk weather, as his wife and a friend nodded in approval. "It could be snowing."
Barry, 37, said he had made the pilgrimage for the eighth consecutive year to the Cask 'n Flagon, where the sounds of the crowd next door seemed a perfectly acceptable substitute for a seat inside the stadium.
"We'll get the score when we go to the bathroom," said Barry, who arrived at the tavern at 11 a.m. when the ballgame began. "Once the game ends, it's perfect. You take a little walk and you can see the marathon."
As the game turned into a blowout, even the police outside the ballpark appeared to be in a holiday mood. Scalpers openly hawked their wares within a few feet of unconcerned officers.
McCorron said he had been tempted, albeit briefly, when he passed a scalper to stake a claim to his patch of sidewalk on the marathon course.
"I asked myself, 'Would she ever forgive me if I went in?' " said McCorron, whose wife, 22, has long dreamed of competing in the Boston Marathon. As he spoke, McCorron received a text alert that his wife, who will graduate on Friday from Brigham Young University, had passed the half-marathon mark in 1 hour, 39 minutes.
"She's been so excited about this," McCorron said.
A few dozen yards away, Susan Littlefield turned from her volunteer duties at a water table for the elite runners to toss a question toward a gaggle of spectators decked out in Red Sox gear.
"Who's winning over there, anyone know?" she yelled, tilting her head toward Fenway Park.
"Red Sox, 2-0!" came the instantaneous reply.
Littlefield heard the answer she'd wanted, a smile creasing her face as she pointed to the Red Sox jersey underneath her official yellow volunteer windbreaker.
The marathon and the Olde Towne Team. Separate, yet inseparable, on another boisterous Patriots Day in Boston.
David Abel of the Globe staff contributed to this report.