WILMINGTON, Mass. -- For a Massachusetts native like Jay Pandolfo, the Boston Marathon is viewed through the same prism as most everybody else that grew up around the Hub.
It's the first real day of spring and the purest, most enjoyable, most unique day on the local sports calendar. The Red Sox game starts at 11 a.m. at Fenway Park, and as the baseball game ambles to a conclusion, Red Sox fans, enthusiastic college students and friends and families of the runners -- as well as the thousands of people that just show up to cheer on complete strangers wearing marathon numbers -- spill out onto the streets of downtown Boston to watch the triumphant finishes on Boylston Street.
Pandolfo was one of those zealous, fun-loving college students during his time playing hockey at Boston University, and he was present at more than one Marathon Monday as a youngster with school out of session for Patriots Day.
The reality that there were more than 100 people wounded along with three casualties resulting from a day that usually brings so much joy to Boston is almost too much to bear for anyone. For residents that beam with pride about their city, it’s downright heartbreaking.
“We always went down for it when I was at BU,” said Pandolfo. “I can’t remember if we went down there. That’s a pretty crowded area and it’s difficult to get down there. It’s not even easy walking down the sidewalk. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling that you feel for the people directly involved.
“There’s not much you really can do except pray for the families and hope that everybody is able to bounce back from this. Pretty much every year you know at least one person that’s running the race, and their friends and family are waiting for them at the finish line.”
It’s no surprise Pandolfo was speaking with the same heavy heart afflicting many Bostonians on Tuesday, the day after the Marathon bombing horror. The reality is that terrorism has reached the streets of Boston, and the best anybody can do is pretty simple: appreciate first responders that saved lives and support the victims and their families that are struggling right now.
"You feel for the City of Boston, but especially for the people directly impacted by this. They were just going out for the day to cheer on family and friends. For this to happen is shocking,” said Pandolfo, a Burlington resident. “Most of the people [running] are doing it for charity.
“For something like that to happen is sad. It’s sad you can’t enjoy a day like this in Boston. There’s really not much else you can say about it.”
Hopefully Pandolfo and the rest of the Bruins will help with the healing process that will inevitably continue in the days, weeks and months following such a horrific act of terrorism. But for now there was still shock and stunned sadness from the Bruins players as they went back to work for a heavy-hearted Tuesday practice at Ristuccia Arena, and began the first steps in coming back from an unspeakable tragedy.