Few traditions are as sacred to a city as Patriots Day is to Boston. It is a day when the Boston Red Sox host a morning baseball game at Fenway Park and afterwards many fans spill out into the streets to watch runners at the Boston Marathon. The day celebrates all things Boston, New England and even the world as people come from all over the globe to either participate in the marathon or just to soak in the spirit of Boston.
Going forward, though, Patriots Day 2013 will always be remembered for the tragedy when three lives were lost and hundreds injured when two bombs exploded within mere seconds and feet apart near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Just as vividly, stories of heroism will be recounted for the selflessness of first responders and many others who took immediate action to guide runners and spectators of all ages to safety to prevent further injuries.
The explosions occurred about 2:50 p.m. local time on a perfect-for-running April 15 day about four hours into the race when numerous participants were approaching the finish line. The chaos, confusion and general shock was felt throughout the city.
At the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center down the street from the explosion, a sports and fitness expo was moving out.
“The explosion happened during the move out,” said Fred Peterson, director of facilities operations for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA), overseer of the venue.
Peterson said that both the venue and the Boston Common Garage were evacuated and went to lockdown mode and that bomb-sniffing dogs were dispatched “just to be safe all around.”
“The safety of our facilities, and the well-being of our events and our clients, are paramount and will remain so.”
The MCCA said that both the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association meeting scheduled to begin April 17 at the Hynes and the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting scheduled at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center to start on April 20 will take place.
“All of our facilities were swept by K-9 units overnight,” said James Rooney, executive director of the MCCA. “These sweeps, already a component of our security protocol, will be conducted more frequently on an unannounced basis in the coming months. The safety of our facilities, and the well-being of our events and our clients, are paramount and will remain so. Again, nothing, today or in the future, is more important to us.”
The full sports day in Boston was to end with the Boston Bruins hosting a National Hockey League game at TD Garden, but they postponed their contest.
“After consultation with City, State and NHL officials we collectively made the decision to postpone tonight’s game,” Bruins President Cam Neely said on the team web site. “Public safety personnel from the City and State are still gathering information regarding today’s events and it is vital they have all resources available for their investigation. The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the Bruins organization are with the city of Boston and all those affected by the tragedy.”
The Boston Celtics were scheduled to host the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night but likewise made a decision not to play, instead canceling their game.
“Out of respect to all those who have been impacted by the tragic events in Boston, including members of the extended Celtics family, the Boston Celtics and the NBA have decided to cancel the game scheduled for Tuesday, April 16,” read an announcement on the team web site.
The next scheduled major marathon is Sunday, April 21 when the Virgin London Marathon takes place in London, England. That race is scheduled to go on.
“We are deeply saddened and shocked by the news from Boston,” said Nick Bitel, London Marathon chief executive. “Our immediate thoughts are with the people there and their families. It is a very sad day for athletics and for our friends and colleagues in marathon running.
“Our security plan is developed jointly with the Metropolitan Police and we were in contact with them as soon as we heard the news.”
Julia Pendry, Met Police chief superintendent, added, “A security plan is in place for the London Marathon. We will be reviewing our security arrangements in partnership with London Marathon.”
Rooney wanted attendees and guests to any MCCA venues to know that safety and security is always front-of-mind.
“Our 155 full-time and part-time public safety officers are trained to respond to various emergency procedures under the National Incident Management System, which is the national standard,” he said. “Our facilities have 400 digital cameras that are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we use Department of Homeland Security freight-screening equipment.”