The throngs started showing up before the 7 a.m. opening, hungry for pancakes but hungrier for company at the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown. By 11 a.m. the line still was out the door, mixed with onlookers snapping photos of the eatery that hours earlier had been shuttered by strict order of police.
“Usually we don’t like the crowds, but today we wanted it,” said Jim Racette, 52, of Watertown, a library staffer at Boston University who gleefully waited 20 minutes with other breakfast-seekers before ordering scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, and pancakes. “We wanted to mix with other people after being so isolated.”
Across the region, but particularly in besieged Watertown, people fanned out of homes, freed from lock-down and the terror of gunfire ringing out in the night. They resumed Saturday routines with a determined blissfulness, rejoicing in the sheer normalcy of it all.
At the Arsenal Mall Target in Watertown, the police staging area during the unprecedented manhunt Friday for one of the two alleged Marathon bombers, Shannon Falkson, a life coach who lives in Chestnut Hill, loaded her Toyota minivan with lemonade, Goldfish snack packs, and Lego sets for her 8-year-old son’s birthday party — which she would have cancelled had the siege not ended. Hovig Margosian, 14, suited up as goalie for practice with the Watertown Youth Lacrosse Team.
In the Back Bay, Adam Stillman, 39, and his wife, Susan Zollo, 43, walked their two dogs along their regular route down Boylston Street, venturing for the first time as far as the makeshift memorial of flowers and Red Sox memorabilia at the start of the crime scene at Berkeley Street.
“We’re so proud and so ready to return to normal,” Zollo said. “But we’re never going to forget.”
Everywhere, there were lingering signs of the mayhem that had unfolded hours earlier. Television camera crews staked out the entry to the Arsenal Mall. Yellow tape blocked entry to Watertown’s Franklin Street, where suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, hiding in a boat in a backyard, was captured Friday night. Onlookers Saturday gathered to gawk at the scene and thank officers standing sentry.
A State Police trooper, who was also at the scene of Friday night’s standoff, said “literally thousands” of pedestrians and drivers had stopped to thank police officers.
“Usually, we get people not waving at us with their whole hand, if you know what I mean,” he said, as passing cars tapped on horns and waved. “It definitely makes you feel appreciated.”
A heavy police presence remained around the cordoned-off crime scene in Boston’s Back Bay where white tents stood at the intersection of Dartmouth and Boylston streets and bright orange lines on pavement denoted potential evidence.
Beyond the barricades, white-suited investigators worked. Debris and overturned trash cans lay scattered and metal barricades once set up along the route were stacked on sidewalks. The Copley MBTA station remained closed while military police staffed Arlington Station.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino said Saturday that when the FBI gives the OK, the city will work to clean the sidewalks and streets, ensure the structural integrity of buildings, and then allow staggered access to inspectors and business owners.
“We believe that some blocks may be ready to open more quickly than other,” the mayor’s statement read. “We are committed to working as hard as possible to reopen the entire area.”
Businesses in the crime scene remained closed Saturday. But outside the perimeter of the scene, others had reopened.
“It was a no-brainer,” said Jack Winer, manager at Lux Bond & Green on Boylston, of the decision to reopen on Wednesday. “We feel like the threat’s over.”
Shuttered Back Bay churches inside the cordoned-off zone scrambled to find spaces for Sunday services. Trinity Church worshipers planned to gather at Temple Israel of Boston.
The Old South Church moved its services to the Church of the Covenant as its members tried to grasp its closing and the terrible reason for it. The last time the church was closed for such a lengthy period was 1775, when British troops evicted members.
“It’s not business as usual,” said the Rev. Nancy S. Taylor, senior minister of Old South Church.
Back Bay church members will come together on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. to pray and sing at the intersection of Boylston and Berkeley streets — a moment, as the organizers put it, “to reclaim Boylston Street with our prayers; rededicating its beauty.”
Boston-area colleges, many of which were closed during the shutdown Friday, are planning a return to routine. Continued...