Patriots' Day brings special buzz to Fenway

BOSTON -- On most days in the morning around Fenway Park, it's a quiet atmosphere. A handful of cars are driving down Yawkey Way, a slew of people are walking to work.

Not on Monday. Thanks to Patriots' Day and a traditional 11:05 a.m. ET start between the Rays and Red Sox, fans lined the streets waiting to get into restaurants and bars, a brass band played outside on Yawkey and the sizzle of onions from vendors could be heard and smelled. Those fans went home happy as the Red Sox inched past the Rays in a 4-3 win.

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Steven Wright tossed six-plus solid innings for his first win of the season and Andrew Benintendi went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

With Boston Marathon runners just a few hundred yards away in Kenmore Square, fans were decked out not only in Red Sox gear, but marathon attire. One man even walked the streets in a Revolutionary War outfit.

"This is such a traditional day here in New England. The centerpiece obviously being the marathon, but our game, as unique as it is at 11 o'clock in the morning -- there's no other game like this," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "While it is early, it's out of the normal schedule for us, even for a day game, it's one that there is a historic element to this and a lot of celebration that goes on around it. So we're more than happy to be a part of it."

Before the game, the Red Sox draped an American flag over the Green Monster, staff sergeant Melissa Lackore sang the national anthem and the United States women's hockey team threw out the first pitch.

Tanya Collen, from Boston, came with her husband and son. They made sure to take a picture on the David Ortiz Bridge before heading inside Fenway.

Collen worked at Cask'n Flagon when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013, so she knows what the excitement of a Red Sox game can feel like.

"This is all so nostalgic," Collen said. "I love getting to celebrate a day like this with my family. All of my cousins are in town, and they got here at 7 a.m. to take in everything in and around Fenway."

Ben and Julie Hollingsworth, from Bedford, Mass., surprised their three children on Easter with tickets to the game. It marked the first Patriots' Day game for their twin daughters, Emma and Lyla.

Emma yawned frequently on the family's walk to the ballpark because of a 7 a.m. wakeup call, but her parents still knew the experience would be worth it.

"It is so fun and everyone on the streets are smiling," Julie said. "You really get a sense of the heritage of the city and what the Red Sox mean to the city."

Judy Johnson, from Nottingham, N.H., is a balloon artist on Yawkey. She said on Patriots' Day she uses many more red, white and blue balloons.

"I get chills thinking about the day. How can it not be emotional?" Nottingham said. "How can you not get emotional because of everything that's happened on this day? We are all patriots at heart."

It wasn't just Red Sox fans who enjoyed Patriots' Day, but the players on both teams.

Rays first-base coach Rocco Baldelli, a Woonsocket, R.I., native, never made it to a Patriots' Day game growing up, but he always knew of friends and family who were involved in the festivities.

"It's a good day for the community up here. It's a fun time," Baldelli said. "It's a very lively day and I think there's a lot of people out there who enjoy it every year."

Wright admitted that the game time was a bit unusual, but he didn't mind.

"With it being so close to Spring Training, it wasn't so bad. It definitely was a little different waking up at 7:30 a.m., but it was fun," Wright said. "Any time the game is sold out, it doesn't matter what time it is. It is really easy to get up for these games."

Benintendi, who's in his first full season with the Red Sox, tried to take in everything going on around him.

"It was awesome. The energy in the stadium was so high," Benintendi said. "It was an early game, but it was awesome. Everyone is sort of united around one another."

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WHAT IS PATRIOTS' DAY? YOUR INTRODUCTION TO BOSTON'S GREATEST HOLIDAY

Before it became the title of a less than great movie starring Mark Wahlberg, Patriots' Day was known foremost as a day that captures the spirit of Boston more accurately than any other day of the year. People across Massachusetts wake up early on the third Monday of April to watch the Boston Red Sox play at 11 a.m., root on friends and family running in the Boston Marathon and celebrate the history of one of America's oldest major cities.

Historically, Patriots' Day marks the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War, and is a state holiday in Massachusetts, Maine and Wisconsin. The history that underlies the holiday marks a point of pride for many in the Boston area, where re-enactments of the battles occur annually.

"Those of us who live here and grow up here take pride that the American Revolution began here," says Gordon Edes, Red Sox team historian. "Talk about an organic beginning to war. You had militiamen coming from all of the neighboring towns coming to Concord and Lexington lining up and facing the strongest empire in the world at the time, the British army."

The Red Sox have been scheduled to play at Fenway Park every Patriots' Day since 1959, with the 11 a.m. start time beginning in 1968. The early start time assures fans at the baseball game get out early enough in the day to cheer on Boston Marathon runners. Fenway Park, located about a mile from the finish line of the marathon, marks a prime location to watch people run by.

"I can hardly conceive of [the Red Sox] not playing on Patriots' Day," Edes says. "It's a given that on Patriots', it's all about watching morning baseball before watching the marathon. That's what makes this such a quirky holiday in New England."

At the heart of Patriots' Day is the Boston Marathon, the oldest, most important and most iconic marathon in America. Elite runners come from all around the world with dreams of winning the race, but locals are generally most excited to see their friends and family participate.

"Everyone knows someone who is running this year and every year," says T.K. Skenderian, the communications director of the Boston Marathon. "From the community involvement to the seven-year-old passing out oranges to the 70-year-old running for their best time, competing to win their age group, all of them take an enormous sense of pride in the event and the city. In many ways, this race doesn't just represent the best parts of our city and the people who live within it. It represents the best there is in mankind."

The race has taken on extra weight since the tragic events of the 2013 marathon, when terrorists set off two bombs at the finish line killing three people and injuring hundreds of others. In 2014, the field of runners grew from 26,839 to 35,671, the race's second-highest total ever, and the race now accepts up to 30,000 runners every year. Athletes must meet time standards corresponding to age and gender in another marathon to run in Boston.

But beyond watching the best long distance runners in the world run through Boston, the best moments are when the crowd picks up a runner who's struggling, and watching that runner push through and continue forward. Or when that friend who you know has been training and raising money for charity—the race accounted for nearly $31 million combined in 2016—for nearly a year finally crosses the finish.

"It's Boston's best weekend," Skenderian says. "People take this race so seriously because they've had to run another marathon damn fast to get in. Eighty percent of the field is qualifiers, and 20 percent are invitationals raising funds."

At its core, Patriots' Day represents a tribute to the city of Boston, its history, culture and people. For one day a year, longtime Bostonians, children and college students pack the streets with one shared purpose: celebrating the city they live in.

"The Boston Marathon is far more than a 26-mile race," Edes says. "It's a community street carnival. It's a welcome holiday, a harbinger of spring. It's all of those things."

"There aren't many traditions that survive from generation to generation, and this is one that has."


Boston: We must never forget what the jihadists did on Patriot's Day

When the Almighty set about to make Bostonians he made them from sturdy stock.

From Bunker Hill to the marathon bombing, they have shown the nation what it means to be Boston Strong.

It's been four years since that day -- the day Islamic radicals waged jihad on the Boston Marathon. Four people were killed. Sixteen people lost their legs -- in the name of the religion of peace.

There are some who would rather we forget about the carnage of that day, April 15, 2013 -- but we cannot and we must not.

We must never forget what the Islamic radicals did to us -- the blood they spilled on American soil on Patriot's Day, four years ago.


We Must Never Forget What the Muslim Jihadists Did on Patriot's Day

When the Almighty set about to make Bostonians he made them from sturdy stock.

From Bunker Hill to the marathon bombing, they have shown the nation what it means to be Boston Strong.

It's been four years since two Islamic radicals waged jihad on the Boston Marathon. Four people were killed. Sixteen people lost their legs - in the name of the religion of peace.

There are some who would rather we forget about the carnage of that day - but we cannot and we must not.

We must never forget what the Islamic radicals did to us -- the blood they spilled on American soil on Patriot's Day.

We must never forget the courage of our fellow countrymen - the bystanders who became first responders.

"That's what Americans do in times of crisis," Daniel Conley told ABC News. "We come together and we help one another. Moments like these, terrible as they are, don't show our weakness, they show our strength."

We must never forget the Boston police who stood guard over the bodies of the dead - so they would not be left alone. 

“We stood there not so much as cops, or veterans, but as fathers. I have five children. Every one of us there that night thought but for the grace of God that could be my child, coming in to watch the marathon on a beautiful day," Boston police captain Frank Armstrong said.

We must never forget the courage and inspiration of the survivors - people ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis and runner Patrick Downes. They both lost their legs - but today Adrianne is once again on the dance floor and last year Patrick ran the Boston Marathon.

"A victim ... means that I somehow belong to somebody or I'm suffering because of him and I'm not suffering. I'm thriving," she told CNN. "I am a survivor."

Those are the stories we must tell future generations - the day the worst of mankind brought out the best of mankind. 

That is what we must remember on this Patriot's Day.

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