NEWTON -- After spending a tense Friday under lockdown in their homes, Newton families descended on a Little League field Saturday to celebrate Opening Day and express relief at the capture of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect just a few miles away.
"I want to say how fortunate and lucky we are to gather here as a community at this moment," declared Mayor Setti Warren, after players from T-ball through the majors raced onto Russell Halloran Field for the official start of Newton North Little League's 62nd season.
"Before I throw out the first pitch," Warren said, "I want you all to give a loud round of applause for all the law enforcement, Newton police, and first responders for what they've been doing this past week. We thank you for everything you do to keep us safe."
The mayor added, "Let's play ball, ladies and gentlemen!"
On Sunday, Warren will attend opening ceremonies of Newton West Little League and of Newton South and East Little League.
Relief and gratitude were everywhere at Russell Halloran Field as coaches for Newton North Little League gathered their teams at center field to hear a recording of the Star Spangled Banner and watch the mayor throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"It's like a breath of fresh air, that these kids can play baseball again," said Phillip Wise, 38, whose FedEx route normally takes him through the Watertown neighborhood where authorities searched Friday for the second bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
"I'd also like to thank all the men and women who captured this guy and kept us all safe," Wise said, adding, "My heart also goes out to the victims."