On Boylston Street, inspiration fills the sidewalks
The call came Friday to the Forum, the Boylston Street fixture sundered by the Marathon bombings. It was the Red Sox, saying the team wanted to present something to the restaurant.
Saturday morning, duck boats ferrying Sox players rumbled to a stop at the Marathon finish line. Chris Loper, the Forum’s general manager, was summoned from the restaurant, teeming with patrons.
Sox players Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia stood there. They held T-shirts. “Boston 617 Strong,” the shirts read. One was presented to Loper, another to representatives from the Marathon Sports store.
“It was awesome,” said Loper, who figures the shirt will be framed and hung in the restaurant.
Along Boylston, fans wore their hearts on their sleeves -- not to mention beards on their faces and, in the case of Keith LeBlanc, tattoos on his calf. The 27-year-old from Auburn had rolled up his right pant leg to expose inked logos of all the Boston sport teams and the trophies they have won. “I thought no better way to show Boston strong than through sports,” LeBlanc said.
He was at Fenway Park on Marathon Monday and after the game, headed to Boylston, where he stood about 50 feet away from one of the blasts. He was back on Boylston on Saturday to hail his beloved Sox.
“I was actually a firm believer in this team from the beginning, one of the few,” he said.
Pamela Brown had come from Framingham to the parade with her 12-year-old twin daughters, Leche Small-Brown and Saisha Small-Brown. The day before the Marathon, they had run a race for children. Saturday marked their first return to Copley Square.
“It’s cool seeing all the people, just seeing people coming out and supporting,” Leche Small-Brown said.
Among the supporters: Two women in beards, which, any other year, might have seemed strange. But not in this, the year of the hairy Sox.
Joanne Park was on Boylston with her husband, Alex Park, and friend Liz Auteri.
They were there to show their fealty to the Sox. “Plus, it’s the whole Marathon,” said Alex Park, referring to the bombings. “It’s important to come out and show we’re not intimidated by that.”
“Plus,” he said, motioning to his wife, “she wanted a beard.”
Joanne Park did not want to go beard solo, so she persuaded her friend to sport a thick, black, faux beard, too.
“I don’t usually do stuff like this,” Liz Auteri said. “But she paid for it.”
Six months ago, Sam Sullivan was 25.5 miles into her first Boston Marathon when the bombs exploded.
Today, she’s on Boylston Street celebrating the world championship of the Red Sox -- and planning another Marathon run. She’d always wanted to run a marathon -- one marathon. But the improbable success of the Red Sox this year inspired to consider lacing up her sneakers again.
“I said to my son at the end of the game, ‘I think I’m going to have to run it again,’ ” said Sullivan, who lives in Melrose and came to the parade with her 14-year-old son, Jack, and his friend, 13-year-old Mike Fennell. “After today, I think it’ll inspire me to get at it.”
They stood on Boylston Street, in front of the Marathon Sports store, not far from where one of the bombs detonated April 15. Sullivan was clad in the blue-and-gold Marathon jacket. “I hardly ever wear this,” she said, grabbing at the collar. “But I felt like I had to put it on today.”
Not far away, Loper was presiding over the Forum restaurant. He’d been there since dawn, preparing the restaurant for the day’s festivities and the expected throngs. There were echoes, he said, of that fateful April day.
“It’s just an eerily similar day,” Loper said. “Just the way it was set up. It’s like deja vu. Setting up the patio, moving stuff around about 7 a.m. both days.”
About a half-dozen workers who’d been present Marathon Monday are on the job today, Loper said. Others who’d worked that day aren’t in the restaurant this morning. “There’s definitely a couple that just couldn’t do it,” Loper said.
Shortly before the parade was set to step off, Loper said he was unsure what to expect. His hope: that this would be a day of pure celebration.
Across from the Lord & Taylor store stood a cadre of superheroes, specifically, Batman and his loyal sidekicks, Robin and Batgirl. So what was Batman -- better known as Joe Kelly, Salem State University freshman -- doing at the parade? “I don’t know, just to party, I guess. And Batman is just a symbol of protection.”
He’s no stranger to these bacchanals on the old streets of Boston. Kelly said he has attended every sports championship parade in recent years -- “since I was little,” he said. Sports is my thing.”
Even Yankees fans caught Red Sox fever. Witness Kayla Canne, a 19-year-old Boston University sophomore who grew up in Rochester, N.Y., as a Yankees devotee. She was on Boylston, near the Forum restaurant and Marathon Sports.
She clutched signs that proclaimed “Papi for mayor,” and “Worst to First.” A lightpost near her was swaddled in a knit cozy emblazoned with a huge B. Notes of inspiration had been attached to it.
“Being in Boston, and seeing how close our community is, I just wanted to celebrate with my family,” Canne said. “And that’s what Boston is, I think.”Akilah Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.