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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Marathon Explosions: One of Boston’s Darkest Days

The scene at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon when one of the two bombs exploded. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)



I was exiting the Red Sox game, and was about ten blocks from Marathon Sports when the two blasts went off. At 2:50 p.m. I was in the bottleneck of people leaving Fenway Park, plodding along the street, and saw a tremendous show of force, at least 20 police cruisers and many more on motorcycles, with a slew of ambulances following them. I was at the corner of Commonwealth and Dartmouth when they stopped the race and when people started to realize that there was a serious situation afoot.

There is no more surreal sight on this earth than a group of hundreds of runners on the 26th mile of a marathon course stopped, standing in place in front of a line of police officers. You could feel the devastation just walking by the group, stopped a half mile short of the goal that they had been training 12 months to reach.

What people tend to not realize is just how close Fenway Park is to the heart of the city. The blast was heard in Kenmore Square, which is directly on the race route. Thousands of spectators from the game were making the march to the finish line to see friends and family finish. The four hour mark is the most crowded time at the marathon from a spectator standpoint, and is the worst possible time for an attack.

The Red Sox crowd of around 38,000, as well as the six-figure marathon crowd, were all affected by the blasts at a time when people are trying to move and meet up, leading to the mass chaos on the street level. Commonwealth Avenue, Huntington, Dartmouth, Boyolston, and other main streets were closed. The Prudential and Copley malls were evacuated. There was an overwhelming, horrifying sense that you had nowhere to go and you were at the mercy of the situation.

Panic was the dominating feeling among spectators at the time, but oddly I didn’t feel it as much as everyone else. I couldn’t grasp why so many people were huddling together and crying, frantically punching at the keys on their cellphones and screaming voice mails into their receivers. It wasn’t until I got home and flipped through national channels, all of which had the same story on, that I grasped the magnitude of this situation.

Now that I am off the streets, sitting safely at home, I can let my thoughts run freely. I have come to a sad realization that we’ve entered an era in American history in which we cannot go to the movies, school, a game, a mall, or even a road race on Patriot’s Day without worrying about one or two rogue individuals ruining a great day for everyone else.

A bombing at the Boston Marathon? That is disgusting. This is a free, recreational event that is one of the great days of the year in our city. Thousands of people from all over the world flock to our city for the four day celebration of athletics that is Marathon Weekend. From here on out, the Boston Marathon will now be known for something else.

This is the first terrorist attack of its kind to pray on sports since the Olympic Bombings of 1996, and that is something that Boston will have to come to terms with. What Columbine is to school shootings the Marathon will be to sporting events. The marathon is truly one of the crown jewels of this city as far as sports go. This is our Rose Bowl. It’s our Running of the Bulls. It’s our Mardi Gras. But now, this 117 year old event will have a dark cloud over it, and this joyous test of the human spirit will have a black eye. That’s what this city must come to terms with.