Posts Tagged ‘Events’

Boston Marathon 2014

Fifteen years ago, I attended the Boston Marathon for the first time.  I knew about the race from an early age, because even in southwestern Connecticut where I grew up it is a big enough event to warrant lots of news coverage.  I also knew enough to be envious of Massachusetts’ schoolchildren that they got an extra holiday that fell on a lovely spring Monday.  But in 1998, I was skeptical that watching people run could be all that entertaining.

Still, I gave it a chance and rode my bike to Cleveland Circle to take in the race.  There was a thrill to seeing all the motorcycles, the press van, the time clock, and finally the small of elite runners zip by.  But what happened next it was really surprised me.  The ordinary runners, the people running to raise money for charities, or to prove something to themselves, or just because they love running began to arrive on the course, first in a trickle then in a big pack.  And the crowds of spectators grew and became louder and they cheered on EVERY. SINGLE. RUNNER.  I walked along the course, following the runners all the way down Beacon Street to Kenmore Square and then on to Boylston Street to the finish line.  Then I rode the green line back to Cleveland Circle along with proud finishers wearing mylar blankets, feeling like I was surrounded by large baked potatoes.

Boston is a town known for its reserve, something that to outsiders may appear aloof or rude.  But on this day, Patriots Day, there’s a near Bacchinalian explosion of good feeling as every spectator expresses their love and support of other people, the majority of whom are complete strangers.  I read stories of experience marathon runners who describe Boston as unlike any other race as the entire course tends to be lined with people offering constant support.  In fact, these runners say that they can’t even leave the race, because the spectators push them back onto the course, which is borderline aggressive, but done with the best intentions.

Last year, this celebration of the best of Boston humanity was marred by the two explosions near the finish line that killed three spectators and wounded hundreds more.  And yet, that Boston spirit was still there as people – both medical professionals and amateurs – rushed to the injured.  There quick action and selflessness save many lives and has been encapsulated in the idea of Boston Strong.  In the wake of the bombings, Bostonians were frightened and saddened, yet also calm and determined.  People I know from far away seemed more freaked out, wondering if anyone would want to run the marathon in the future, perhaps even canceling it entire.  President Obama got it right when he said “Next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.”

Since that first marathon in 1998, I’ve tried to watch it every year when I can get off work.  I’ve also gone to the battle reenactment and parade in Concord and a baseball game at Fenway Park (attending the dawn reenactment at Lexington and riding in the Midnight Madness bike marathon are still on my to-do list).  Last year, I did have the day off from work but was unable to convince my children that they would want to go watch people run and cheer for them.  We went to the playground instead.  In retrospect, ambulance that passed us by at incredible speeds as we were on our way to the playground were certainly responding to the bombings. I learned of the bombings from checking my smartphone while watching my children play.

I knew that I would have to watch the 2014 marathon no matter what. Luckily, the kids were agreeable, and my whole  family watched the marathon today.  We returned to my favorite spot at Cleveland Circle.  Conveniently, there is a playground tucked behind the buildings on Beacon Street, so the kids could take a break.  My daughter Kay peeked through the fence and shook some noisemakers while cheering on the runners.  My son Peter was more intent on watching the race and spotting some friends of ours among the pack.  He gave high five to runners and one woman stopped and talked to him about her stomach cramps. It was a gorgeous day, a great marathon, and really everything that Patriots Day in Boston is supposed to be.

 

Related Posts:

2013 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

My 2013 list is a typical hodge-podge of activity.  Some of the events have links to when I wrote about them at the time.  Others I wrote a little bit more about in this post.

20 January – A Winter Day Out in Providence  - My wife left for a business trip, and I took the kids out for a successful outing to Rhode Island which included playing at the Providence Children’s Museum, a Providence Bruins‘ game (complete with thunderstix), & Harry’s Bar & Burger for dinner and ice cream sandwiches.

8-11 February – Blizzard of ’13 - also known as Winter Storm Nemo, dumped 25 inches of snow on our hometown making much delight for the children and cooperative snow removal ventures with the neighbors.  The photo below is from our outing to Centre Street in Jamaica Plain to pick up beer & cheese.

28 February – Beck Song Reader Concert - I was part of a 50-voice choir bringing Beck’s songs of sheet music to life.  You can see me singing out from the back row in the photo below. 

Spring & Summer – Peter learns to bike - My son learned to ride a pedal bike.  Now we need to work on braking.

15 April – Boston Marathon bombing – My kids and I were at a playground far from the Marathon route when it happened, and even if we’d gone to watch we’d have been far from the finish line, but it was still shocking to hear of the deaths and injuries.  Especially considering that Patriots Day is a civic holiday that is perhaps the day on the calendar when Boston is at its most joyous, communal, and supportive.  That spirit shined through with the many people – professionals and amateurs – who rushed in to help the wounded.  I was touched by the outpouring of support for Boston, and if anything good has come out of this it is that they typically self-deprecating Bostonians are far more positive and  confident these days.  A few days later, we had the weird shelter-in-place alert, but still spirits were kept up as we shared news and jokes through social media.  Not something I’d want to live through again, but I’m grateful for all the people who chose to help and that the casualties were not as bad as they could’ve been.

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27 April – Regan Youth League Baseball Parade and Teeball - My baseball-obsessed son started playing teeball and we marched through the streets of Jamaica Plain, even stopping to sing.

May & October – Kindergarten Arboretum Field Trips - I stepped into a new role in fatherhood as I served as a chaperon on two school outings to Arnold Arboretum.  I particularly like the spring trip when the kids got to see a snapping turtle up close and personal. 

May to Present – Hope Central Church - We were in search of a new church closer to home and found a new spiritual home at Hope Central.

2 June – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon - This time my daughter was my co-pilot on this great fundraising ride through the city.

12 June –  US Open Cup game - Professional men’s soccer comes to Boston for one night only and it was great.

16 June – Father’s Day Outing to Wachusett Meadow - Two years in a row makes it a tradition, no?

28-30 June – Family Gathering in New Jersey – Susan’s family gathered in New Jersey to celebrate her Aunt Thelma and cousin Glen.  Peter enjoyed playing sports and video games with his many boy cousins.

14 July – Circle the City on the Avenue of the Arts - Huntington Avenue became a pedestrian haven for just one day.  I lead a walking tour.   Peter played lots of soccer.

12 August – Georges Island – Vintage Baseball - On a beautiful summer day, we sailed to the Harbor Islands and traveled back in time to the dead ball era.

20-25 August – Family Camp at Purity Springs - We spent a week at the Purity Springs Family Camp in New Hampshire with some of the friendliest people ever, our days packed with activities like lake swimming (and jumping), archery, paddle boarding, pooh sticks, canoeing, knee boarding, s’mores making, cookouts, and hiking.

2-8 September – New York City trip - Another great trip to the City with Peter and his Nana.

14 October – Tufts Health Plan 10K - Our friend Sharon coaxed Susan into participating in this run.  I enjoyed watching with the other spouses and children.  And Susan did great finishing all 10 of the Ks.  We are all so proud of her.

30 October – Red Sox Win the World Series - A great season, especially when viewed through the eyes of a five-year-old.

10 November – Claire & John’s wedding - Our dear friend Claire, godmother to our children, married a charming gent and we had a blast.  The kids played their part in the wedding ceremony and then at the reception we played, and hugged, and danced, and toasted the newlyweds.

“Cheers!”

25-31 December – Christmas Travel We’ve just returned from our annual holiday swing through North Carolina and Virginia.  This year was extra special as the kids got to see all of their grandparents, all of their aunts and uncles, and most importantly, play with all of their cousins.

Goodbye 2013, you will be missed.  Hello 2014, can’t wait to see what you have to offer.

Previously:

Open Streets on the Avenue of the Arts: Circle the City

Bostonians enjoyed easy access for walking, biking, skating, playing and more on the outbound lanes of Huntington Avenue on Sunday, July 14th thanks to the Circle the City Open Streets program.  Thanks to Walk Boston, I was able to participate in the event reviving my Boston By Foot Avenue of the Arts walking tour.  A small but curious group joined me on the 90 minute walk from the Christian Science Center to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

After the tour, I met up with my wife and kids to take in more of the activities.  My son Peter was drawn to the Super Soccer Stars activities at Northeastern University and happily played soccer with the coaches and rotating cast of children for about three hours.  I had little trouble convincing my daughter Kay to be my copilot on a bike ride up and down the Avenue of the Arts.  We enjoyed the Boston Cyclist Union’s demonstration cycle tracks, listened to a drum circle, watched dancers, heard a loud synthpop duo, rode alongside marching bands, and got high fives from passersby.

Despite scorching hot weather, it was a fun day out for all the family and something I’d love to see more often.  Before I get to the photos, I have two quick, mild criticisms.  First, the map and program didn’t seem to have enough helpful detail about the types of activities going on or even a good sense of where to find some things (for example, I think my tour may have had more people if they had a better sense of what it was and where to meet, but I also had this feeling looking for other activities).  Second, the stretch of Huntington from Ruggles to Brigham Circle felt like the activity tents were spaced far apart.  It’s also a less shady part of the road, unfortunately.  It didn’t seem too welcoming to pedestrian activity and I didn’t see many people walking here.  Maybe the activities should be grouped together more closely to lend it a better street festival vibe?

 

Cross-posted at my Boston Bike Commuter blog.

July 14th: Open Streets on the Avenue of the Arts

This Sunday, July 14, 2013, Circle the City and The Fenway Alliance present Open Streets on the Avenue of the Arts.  From 11am – 4pm, Huntington Avenue will be closed to motor vehicles and open for fitness, yoga, bikes, dance, arts, kids activities, and walking tours AND MUCH MORE.

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I’m particularly excited about this event because thanks to Walk Boston I’ve been invited to reprise my Boston By Foot walking tour of the Avenue of the Arts.  Imagine a walking tour where we can step safely out into the street to take in new perspectives on the architecture and history of the institutions that line the avenue!  And the best part is that the tour is free.  If you are interested in learning more about the cultural institutions on Huntington Avenue, this is the day to do it.

As we walk along this cultural corridor we’ll explore the history of Huntington Avenue and learn about:

  • landmarks created by two of the most remarkable women in Boston’s history: Mary Baker Eddy and Isabella Stewart Gardner
  • not one but two acoustically perfect concert halls
  • not one but two historical figures named Eben
  • the oldest artificial ice sporting arena in the world
  • Boston’s lost opera house
  • the many innovations and contributions of the YMCA
  • the site of the first World Series game
  • expansion and development at Northeastern University, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • and much, much more

Meet at the Christian Science Center plaza on Massachusetts Avenue at 11 am for the 90 minute tour.  And leave time to make a day of it because there will be plenty more activities to enjoy on our Open Streets!

 

Support Bikes Not Bombs!

This weekend I will be riding in the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon with my 18-month daughter Kay as my co-pilot.

Bikes Not Bombs is one of my favorite charitable  social justice organization because it uses the bicycle as a vehicle for social change. This includes shipping restored bikes to International Programs in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean where sustainable transportation is vital for economic development. Closer to home, Youth Programs in the Boston area teach bicycle safety and mechanical skills to local teens building self-confidence and personal responsibility. Please make a donation to help the world-changing activities of Bikes Not Bombs. Better yet, come join us for the ride and/or for the post-ride festival at Stony Brook.

SingPositive, JP Spring Concert on Sunday, May 19 at 4 pm

Awake My Soul

Join SingPositive, JP! for our Spring Concert!
Sunday, May 19th, 4pm @ St. John’s Episcopal Church (1 Roanoke Ave.)

“Awake, My Soul” – celebrating spring, change, growth, and rebirth
with JP’s biggest intergenerational chorus and band

Songs from Mumford & Sons, Michael Jackson, The Muppets,
James Taylor, “Hair,” Peter, Paul and Mary, and more

Tickets available at the door or by emailing us:
$10/adults, $5/kids ages 2-16.

“Join” our Facebook event and invite your friends!

Photopost: Wake Up The Earth 2013

Spring descended on Jamaica Plain this past weekend with the annual Wake Up the Earth Festival presented by Spontaneous Celebrations. This was the 35th annual festival, an event that grew out of the “highway revolt” of the 1960s & 70s when local activists opposed the construction of highway infrastructure in Jamaica Plain & Roxbury, leading to the creation of the Southwest Corridor as a system of train lines, bike paths, and parks that we enjoy today. Ironically, some people who want to create new prioritized highway infrastructure for cars marched in this year’s parade which I guess shows that this festival takes all kinds.  The festival itself was home to many tents of activists of many causes, food, games, and musical performances.  My family and I sang a few songs with the intergenerational chorus SingPositive, JP in preparation for our concert on May 19th.  We also danced to Maaak Pelletier’s jam band the Mystical Misfits as they played Grateful Dead classics.  Finally, the potato sack slide down the hillside was great fun for everyone.

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A peace sign and yin yang grow out of the hillside at Jamaica Pond’s Sugar Bowl.

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Peace and flowers!

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The Brendan Behan quote seems appropriate to the occassion.

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Spanish banner for the festival.

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Here comes the parade.

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The stilt walkers always impress.

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I’m pretty sure this woman participates every year.

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The theme of the year is snakes and these folks won the Best Family Costume award.

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Hula hooping is another big highlight of the festival.

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Mobile percussion unit.

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The wolf and the lamb dance in the street.

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A rocking marching band and dancing stilt walker.

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Scholars from my son’s school march.

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Getting brassy.

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The Mystical Misfits lead the dance.

More photos from the parade and festival on Universal Hub and JP Patch.

Previously:

Songs of the Week: Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live

The songs in my head this week, of course, are the songs I’m rehearsing for a concert called Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live.  The show is next Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square (on the Red Line) at 8:00.  Beck released his 2012 album Song Reader entirely as sheet music, and 150 of Boston’s best musicians, dancers, and performance artists will be presenting their interpretations of all 20 songs.  My choir will perform an arrangement of one song a capella and provide accompaniment to four other songs.

Get your tickets now for $25/seat as this show is sure to sell out!

The choral centerpiece is a song called “The Wolf is on the Hill.”  In this video, you may hear us rehearsing a couple of weeks ago.  We sound even better now.  At the end of this clip you can also hear a small portion of “Title of the Song” which is the grand finale of the concert.

The choir is also accompanying Sarah Ribdau and Peter Moore on their rendition of “Please Leave the Light On When You Go” and Peter Moore’s take of “Heaven’s Ladder”:

The choir is participating on a fifth song as well, “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard” by Molly Zenobia.  This may be my favorite of all the songs I’ve heard, but you’ll have to take my word for it and come to the concert to hear it, because there is no demo.

Some other songs you will hear at the concert include:

  • “Why Did You Make Me Care” by Mary Bichner:

  • “Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings” by The Highland Drifters
  • “Sorry” by Endation
  • “Old Shanghai” by Mary Bichner

This barely scratches the surface, as there will be a dozen more songs plus choreographed dance performances for each number.

So buy your tickets now!!!

Beck’s Song Reader Concert

Next week, I will singing in a 50-person kick-ass choir as part of a concert called Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live.  The show is next Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square (on the Red Line) at 8:00.  Beck released his 2012 album Song Reader entirely as sheet music, and 150 of Boston’s best musicians, dancers, and performance artists will be presenting their interpretations of all 20 songs.  My choir will perform an arrangement of one song a capella and provide accompaniment to four other songs.  Get your tickets now for $25/seat as this show is sure to sell out!

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2012 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

  • Sing Positive, JP – a year long highlight as my son Peter & I sang and formed community with other JP residents of all ages.  We performed concerts in May (part 1, 2, & 3) and December with special appearances at Wake Up the Earth and the Lantern Parade.
  • Discovery Museums – my mother visited in February and we took Peter to the Discovery Museums in Acton where Peter explored the small but creatively-designed rooms of the childrens museum and woodworking in the workshop at the science museum.  We returned to this new favorite place several more times over the course of the year.
  • Breaking the ice on Jamaica Pond –  After brunch at The Haven, Peter and friend Jordan strolled around the pond on a chilly day and cracked ice and chucked rocks.
  • Wilson Mountain hike – We got an explored nature with a spring hike to the top of Dedham’s Wilson Mountain which included “rocky fun time” clambering up the boulders along the trail.
  • Red Sox games – This wasn’t a great season for the Old Town Team, but Peter & I enjoyed a four-game Sox Pax where we sat in the bleachers for a (a very hot) Patriots Day, Memorial Day, a Wednesday in June, and a Monday in August.  The Sox won three of the games and Peter got to run the bases with the other kids at the final game.
  • Mets game -  My other favorite team also played poorly this season but I did make it to join friends for the Banner Day game,  one of the 20 wins for Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, and wept after Johan Santana threw the Mets’ first no-hitter on June 1st.
  • Kay’s Baptism – Family descended on Boston in late April for our baby girl’s baptism including all the grandparents and her namesake Aunt Kay.
  • Fathers Day at Wachusset Meadows - I was a very lucky Dad who got to snuggle with his kids, have a delicious lunch, walk through the beautiful Wachusset Meadows, and then stop at a roadside ice cream parlor.
  • Tall ships in Boston - Another exciting outing with the kids, visiting tall ships at the Charlestown Navy Yard.
  • Day Trip to Lowell – We made a mid-July outing to historic Lowell taking a journey by boat along the canals and river and then catching a Lowell Spinners baseball game.
  • Summer Olympics in London – I was really inspired by the crazy but beautiful opening ceremonies and enjoyed watching various events with Peter on my computer who then went on to reenact the games with his preschool classmates.
  • Summer Arts Weekend and Esplanade Playspace – Peter, Kay & I enjoyed a performance by Dan Zanes & Friends, watched some Irish step dancers, and then played on the new playground along the Charles River.
  • Circle the City - The Greenway and several streets in Downtown Boston were closed to auto traffic so we enjoyed strolling, biking, playing and dancing in the street.  They should really do this every Sunday.
  • Farewell to Child Care – Peter said goodbye to his friends and teachers at Soldiers Field Park Child Care at a bittersweet goodbye circle.  It was time for him to move on, but sad for all of us to leave many good people behind.
  • South End Tour of the Month - I served as one of the guides for another magnificent Boston By Foot neighborhood tour that attracted 125 people on a Sunday in late August.
  • Canobie Lake and White Mountains - We enjoyed a great family vacation to New Hampshire featuring a visit to a charming amusement park, climbing up the Flume Gorge, visiting the longest candy counter in Littleton, and soaring up Cannon Mountain on the aerial tram.
  • Kindergarten – Peter started attending K1 at our local Boston Public elementary school and instantly having a great time making friends and learning new things.  As a family we’ve enjoyed playdates and picnics and making the school part of our everyday life.
  • Weekend in Washington - Peter & I flew to our nation’s capital for the Columbus Day weekend staying with our friends the Rossos and visiting museums and the National Zoo.
  • Hurricane Sandy – We were fortunate that in Boston, the hurricane just meant staying cooped inside for a day with only downed sticks and leaves (and a billboard near Forest Hills station) knocked over, but this storm hit close to home with the extensive damage to New York City (where my family is from and many friends and family still live) as well as New Jersey and Connecticut (two states where I used to live).
  • Peter’s Birthday Party – Peter turned 5 with a cast of thousands joining him at the YMCA for games, a moonbounce, and baseball-shaped cupcakes.

Previously:

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