By David Ariosto
BOSTON (CNN) — The Green Monster, the 37-foot-tall wall that guards left field in Fenway Park, is the perfect metaphor for Boston pride: It’s ancient, immense and impervious to cheap shots.
Natives commonly tout their Boston bona fides when traveling outside the city, said resident Stephen Tang, and when there’s trouble here, “everybody helps out.”
So, after two bombs were set off at the Boston Marathon last week, the city’s response was so quick, instinctive and full-throated that it enthralled outsiders; even ardent Yankees fans could take some pride in New York’s proximity to Massachusetts.
“We pride ourselves on this family-community way of being,” said Mariah MacFarlane, a North End resident tending bar at a downtown restaurant.
“Any person who attempts to disrupt that, there’s no chance we’re not going to take it personally.”
That played out in the heart of the city last week as first responders rushed in to help scores of people hurt in the smoldering aftermath of a rare terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The two explosions near the finish line of the marathon on April 15 killed three people and injured more than 170, but by nearly all accounts, it could have been much worse.
“Moments like these, terrible as they are, don’t show our weakness; they show our strength,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley.
For days after the attack, Boston became a virtual ghost town as authorities homed in on one of two suspects in a quiet suburb seven miles from Boylston Street, the scene of the attacks.
When the lockdown was lifted and the suspect in custody, residents poured out onto city streets cheering on police and chanting, “We love Boston!”
“It’s in your blood,” said Colleen Bergeron, a Massachusetts native who has since moved to Richmond, Virginia. “Even my grandmother’s a Red Sox fan.”
“I’ve lived all across the country and there’s nothing like it,” she added.
The city, New England’s biggest, anchors a half-ring of suburbs that make it the nation’s 10th-largest metropolitan area. But it is the quintessential little big town.
The term “blue blood” seems incomplete without the city’s name. It was incorporated 10 years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Its patriotic pedigree — the birthplace of Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and Benjamin Franklin — is unmatched. Its brick-bound patchwork of ethnic enclaves and blue-collar neighborhoods give the place a sense of community and a don’t-mess-with-us air.
Last week’s attacks likely will leave an indelible impression on the city and time-honored traditions. On the third Monday of April every year dating to 1897, Massachusetts has celebrated Patriot’s Day with the running of the marathon.
“Here’s what you usually do on marathon Monday,” explained 30-year-old Damian Barreiro. “You go the Red Sox game to catch a good buzz, and then you head over to the finish line to see everyone cross.”
“Now, it’s a day of sadness and remembering.”
While much of the region has edged back to normal, a six-block downtown area remains a barricaded crime scene. But a defiant Mayor Thomas Menino, who’s been a fixture in office for nearly two decades, this week stood from the wheelchair he’s used since recent health problems to announce plans to reopen Bolyston Street.
“It’s time to move this city forward,” Menino said.
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