Marathon Daffodils Placed in Neighborhood Parks, Marking 5 Years After Bombings

“Boston Strong” Marathon Daffodils not only line the 26.2 mile route, but potted daffodil plants are spread throughout Boston’s neighborhood parks this weekend, including Christopher Columbus Park on the North End waterfront.

The respectful gesture honors those who were lost five years ago on the April 15th bombings. Organizers including the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park ask that the potted plants be displayed through Monday at 4pm at which time the public is welcome to take home a pot and plant the bulbs in memoriam.

Last year, a professional documentary filmmaker followed the path of these flowers, telling the story of Marathon Daffodils and this remarkable effort of donors and volunteers.

Marathon Daffodils in Neighborhood Parks

Marathon Daffodils is the continuing tribute to the “Boston Strong” spirit, now four years after the bombing tragedy. For the 2017 Boston Marathon, the effort expanded to neighborhood parks and public spaces, well beyond the marathon route. The Friends of Christopher Columbus Park brought our attention to the hundreds of potted plants on the waterfront shown in these pictures. The blue and yellow potted Boston Strong daffodils were labeled with signs asking visitors to leave them in place until Marathon Monday, when they can be taken and brought home.

Also, see this interview by Matt Piscitelli from Olson Greenhouses on the 20,000 daffodil bulbs contributing to the cause. The perennial effort was started in 2014 by Diane Valle who gathered volunteers to plant bulbs along the marathon route. Closer to town and the finish line, potted plants are displayed along the streets and in business windows. Prepared in a greenhouse, the daffodil plants are kept cool and timed to bloom for Marathon Monday.

More photos at MattConti.com

Book Release & North End Signing by Marathon Bombing Survivor Roseann Sdoia

Roseann could not have predicted the events of Marathon Monday 2013. All were shocked when, in a matter of minutes, chaos erupted. After the first bomb went off, Roseann made to take off down the street when she suddenly heard two loud popping sounds and saw two white flashes of light at her feet. It was the last time she saw her right foot.

After the marathon, Roseann became a symbol of hope and strength for many Bostonians. Her tireless spirit and ability to find joy and humor in even the worst circumstances helped her as she embarked on a new career as a public speaker and amputee advocate. And by her side during all of these life-changing moments are Shores, Shana, and Mike—the last of whom plans to keep on holding her hand for all the years to come.

PERFECT STRANGERS is about recovery, about choosing joy and human connection over anger and resentment, and most of all, it’s about an unlikely but enduring friendship that grew out of the tragedy of Boston’s worst day.

Roseann Sdoia will have a book presentation and signing on April 14th, 6pm, at I Am Books, 189 North St. in Boston’s North End. Sign up here.

North End Bombing Victim Roseann Sdoia to Marry Boston Fireman Who Saved Her

Roseann Sdoia and Mike Materia (AP)

Former North End resident, Roseann Sdoia, lost her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing and is now engaged to the firefighter who saved her.

Roseann Sdoia, 48, tells The New York Post that she and Boston firefighter Mike Materia were engaged on Nantucket in December.

“He’s seen me on my worst day,” Sdoia told the New York Post.

Seriously injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, Materia rushed to help her and they struck up a friendship. They plan to marry this fall and are releasing a book next month titled “Perfect Strangers,” about four people affected by the bombing.

See more posts about Roseann Sdoia and the Marathon Bombings.

Downtown View: Throw Away the Key

I hear someone has decided it’s a good idea to make a movie about that crook from South Boston who murdered people and was on the lam for so many years. That’s even worse than the book a couple of reporters wrote. First of all, we already know the ending. But more important is that such attention feeds the subject’s twisted sense of importance. Why would we ever want to do that?

My plan instead is never to mention the crook’s name. My plan is also never to see the movie or read any more about him. He must be sitting in his cell delighted that people are going to preserve in celluloid (or whatever they use these days) all his evil ways and deeds, flattered by the fame of the actor who will portray him. A better plan would be to stop mentioning him and keep him locked up in some anonymous cell, a forgotten man.

That’s the same reason I abhor the death penalty for the younger brother who bombed the people at the Boston Marathon last year. My plan is to not give him the satisfaction of mentioning his name either.

It’s clear that he’ll go to trial. We’ll have to see his name in the headlines and hear him discussed on radio and television during that phase, even though the guilty verdict is a forgone conclusion.

But if the feds impose the death penalty, we’ll be assaulted with him over and over again as his lawyers appeal, complain, ask for new trials, etc. etc. all at the taxpayer’s expense. He’s another one who should sit in a cell forgotten.

It is obvious why people love the death penalty. That will show those creeps not to do dastardly things. Revenge is also good. Eye for an eye and all that.

But so what? They already have done the dastardly thing, and putting them to death only puts us in league with dictatorships and countries we used to call “banana republics.” It keeps the creepy guys’ names and faces before us for far too long. We need to get on with our lives.

There are more pesky problems with the death penalty. States say they try to find humane ways to do it but they fail. Some states execute people with profound mental ability deficits or people whose crime was committed when they were youths, which seems to stretch the concept of fairness. It costs an arm and a leg to carry out. There is also the contradiction: those states in which the death penalty exists don’t actually succeed in one of the stated goals, which is to deter crime. Texas, for example, a state bent on killing every criminal they can, has a murder rate about four times that of Massachusetts, not counting the people who the state murders.

Then, of course, there are those who are executed who were wrongly convicted in the first place, although we can be pretty sure the crook from South Boston wasn’t and the Marathon bomber won’t be. In death penalty states, minorities are executed more than non-minorities for the same crime. At the end, the whole thing is barbaric, unsophisticated, and medieval, urged on by the most primitive motives, and the states and their executioners seem pathetic.

But that’s still not the main reason I dislike the death penalty, and, in particular, executing high visibility criminals. It continues the high visibility far too long when instead such people should become forgotten with the ignominy they deserve.

Downtown View is a regular column by Karen Cord Taylor who founded The Beacon Hill Times weekly newspaper in 1995 and served as its editor and publisher until late 2007. She also founded and served as editor and publisher of the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge and The Back Bay Sun weeklies. Her column appears in those newspapers as well as the Regional Review, which serves Boston’s North End. These weeklies are now owned by the Independent Newspaper Group. She is the author of “Blue Laws, Brahmins and Breakdown Lanes: An Alphabetic Guide to Boston and Bostonians” and the co-author of “The Lady Architects,” a book about three women who practiced architecture in New England and elsewhere in the early 20th century. She lives in downtown Boston and blogs at BostonColumn.com.

Fisherman’s Feast Video: 2013 Opening Ceremonies & Blessing of the Fleet

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One of the unique traditions of the Fisherman’s Feast is the opening night procession to Boston Harbor for the Blessing of the Fleet and Fishing Waters. If you’ve been at Christopher Columbus Park in the past few decades, then you know the Sicilian fishing boats are all gone, replaced by ferries, yachts and recreational boats. Feast Co-Chair Kenny Palazzolo explains (7:30 in the video), “it is symbolic of generations gone by.” The society is also working with the Public Art Commission to establish a Sicilian Fisherman Tribute at Long Wharf. This year’s blessing was performed by Fr. Claude of the North End’s St. Leonard Church. This year’s ceremony was also dedicated to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. The event was held as part of the 103rd Fisherman’s Feast on August 15, 2013.

Video timeline:

  • 00:00 Opening the feast with the revelation of the statue of the Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca
  • 01:30 Italian American of the Year Award to Mayor Thomas M. Menino (See more in separate post.)
  • 02:45 Remembering Phyllis Rugnetta on North Street
  • 04:00 Entering Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, Angel Introductions
  • 04:40 Remembering Anthony Primo
  • 05:50 Remembering Dina Bono
  • 07:30 Feast Co-Chair Kenny Palazzolo – Blessing of the Fleet Introduction
  • 08:20 Fr. Claude Scrima – Blessing of the Fishing Waters
  • 09:50 Bringing Our Lady home
  • 12:30 Placing the Madonna statue in her Feast Chapel

More posts from the Fisherman’s Feast.

AP: North End Resident and Marathon Amputee, Roseann Sdoia, “Strides Forward”

Roseann Sdoia, a North End victim of the Boston Marathon bombings, continues to make strides including intense physical therapy to replace her right leg with a prosthetic limb. The Associated Press’ Bridget Murphy filed a report on Boston.com including the video embedded above.

On April 15, she saw a flash of light at her feet while watching for a friend to pass her on Boylston Street on the way to the race’s finish line. Then she heard a popping noise and realized it was too late to run away.

Since then, Sdoia has battled against indulging her disability. She didn’t want to have someone pushing her around in a wheelchair or to think too much about the suspects who changed her life and ended three others. As time passed, she found her emotions weren’t as raw as in the beginning. But being up on two legs again has brought some strong feelings bubbling to the surface.

The resident of Boston’s North End spent about a week at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital recently for therapy aimed at getting her accustomed to her new prosthetic.

Read the full AP article on Boston.com

Downtown View: Daffodils for the Marathon

Memorials are tricky.

You’ve probably heard of the troubles with the proposed memorial for Eisenhower.

The most successful examples are, of course, Lincoln’s, Washington’s and the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial in Washington. Finding a name on that wall—hard to do when the 58,000 of them are not arranged alphabetically—brings that fallen soldier to life for loved ones.

The Armenian Genocide Memorial on the Greenway is another success. I was skeptical. Would it be like the starving Polish horsemen that for stood for years on the Common, the Irish famine memorial at the corner of School and Washington streets or the firemen’s memorial behind the State House?

Such sentimentalized caricatures make you laugh instead of honoring the tragedy or the heroes.

The Armenian Heritage Park turned out to be lovely and interesting. It evokes an experience beyond the catastrophe it commemorates. It contributes to the entire city, not just to a single group of people.

In the last few decades a new kind of memorial has become trendy. Spontaneously, teddy bears, flowers, notes and all kinds of flotsam and jetsam are tossed into a pile at the site of a tragedy. We have such a memorial at Copley Square in memory of the Marathon bombings.

It’s understandable that people want to do something when tragedies befall us. But the collection of objects at a site has become a cliché. It borders on entertainment. It shows signs of what one person I know calls the “grief industry.” It lacks a certain New England dignity. And what do you do with all that stuff?

That’s why a new response to the Marathon bombings has such appeal. Dreamed up by Charlestown resident Diane Valle, it doesn’t wallow or reek of cliché. Instead of memorializing, it offers celebration and splendor.

Diane is an intense woman with a long-time interest in horticulture. Among other achievements, she was a prime mover behind daffodils in the North End sections of the Greenway. She chaired Blooms, the scaled-down event that replaced the New England Flower Show when the Massachusetts Horticultural Society faced hard times.

Now she proposes a floral tribute to the Marathon. This fall she wants to plant at least 100,000 Dutchmaster daffodil bulbs from Hopkinton to Copley Square along the runners’ route. Daffodils in Massachusetts appear just at Marathon time. They come in yellow, a color of the Marathon. Next year’s runners will feel embraced by them. Next year’s spectators will enjoy beauty that will help dispell this year’s horrors. Daffodils come up year after year and spread, so they’ll continue to symbolize the humanity of the Marathon, not some creepy brothers.

Diane estimates it will cost about $1,000 a mile for the bulbs. She has already signed up helpers. Several horticulture organizations have agreed to lead the project in individual towns, with Kathy Macdonald of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and Heidi Kost Gross, past president of the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, taking on the route through Natick and Wellesley.

This effort won’t help the affected families the way the One Fund will. It won’t ease their sorrow. Victims will still need sustenance from friends and family for the rest of their lives. And there surely will be other observances next April that will honor the victims and those who responded to their needs.

But this project evokes a joy that other observances lack. It also builds on an effort to scatter daffodils throughout the commonwealth as Mayor Menino helped do last year in the city.

You can help with this observance. You can send a contribution with checks payable to “Marathon Daffodils” at 20 Mount Vernon Street, Charlestown, MA 02129.

You can volunteer to plant. Get in touch with your local garden club along the route if your community has one. Otherwise contact Diane at dianevalle@gmail.com. She will be organizing the planting.

This project is an affirmation—a bounty of beauty will celebrate the runners and all of us as we persevere.

Downtown View is a regular column by Karen Cord Taylor who founded The Beacon Hill Times weekly newspaper in 1995 and served as its editor and publisher until late 2007. She also founded and served as editor and publisher of the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge and The Back Bay Sun weeklies. Her column appears in those newspapers as well as the Regional Review, which serves Boston’s North End. These weeklies are now owned by the Independent Newspaper Group. She is the author of “Blue Laws, Brahmins and Breakdown Lanes: An Alphabetic Guide to Boston and Bostonians” and the co-author of “The Lady Architects,” a book about three women who practiced architecture in New England and elsewhere in the early 20th century. She lives in downtown Boston and blogs at BostonColumn.com.

FT Boston Run Benefiting “One Fund” is a Huge Success

ft boston run

The Fitness Together Boston Run was a huge success and raised over $3,000 for the “One Fund” to benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. As a collective “FT Boston”, the group ran (or walked) to each Fitness Together Boston studio location on May 11, 2013. Each studio welcomed runners and walkers with water and fuel during our trek through the city! The total course length was 3.5 miles. Afterwards, everyone came back to Fitness Together North End where we had refreshments, silent auction items, chair massages & more!

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North End BINGO Fundraiser Honors Resident and Marathon Survivor Roseann Sdoia

From the left, Shores Salter, Nick Verrocchi, Laurie D’Elia, Roseann Matarazzo and Roseann Sdoia.

North End BINGO fans came out on Sunday afternoon to the Nazzaro Community Center for one of our own, Roseann Sdoia. Seriously injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, the North End resident had to have part of her leg amputated. After being released from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital last week, Roseann was able to attend the BINGO fundraiser in her honor. Also attending was Shores Salter, the hero that helped Roseann on the day of the attacks.

The event raised over $8,500 for Roseann’s recovery. The fundraiser was organized by Roseann Matarazzo with help from Laurie D’Elia and Nick Verrocchi. Gift certificates and donations were also contributed by many neighborhood businesses and people including My Cousin’s Place, Tresca, Regina’s, Carmelina’s, Vito’s, Strega’s, Artu, Pagliuca’s, Pauli’s, Bangs of Boston, Gina Lupo (Umberto’s), Mary Ann Simonelli Foti (E.B. Horn), Adeline Ameno, Lucia’s, Boston Barber Co., Matter Of Face, Antico Forno, Terramia, Massimino’s, Benevento’s, Gennaro’s, Cafe Florentine, Cafe Vittoria, Limoncello, Boston CoCoa Nuts, Dolores’ Skin Care, Michael Anderson (Red Sox Tix), Billy Tse North End, Carla Ascione (NKOTB), Pasta Beach, Fascino Salon, Aria, Hanover Liquors (Joe G.), Balance Salon, Ducali, Amici, Mangia’s, CobbleStone, Rosanna Pantaleo (wine), Pompeii, Nino Trotta (wine), Debbie Lilmuse (candles), Geno Colafello, Mike Romano (Red Sox Jersey), St. Anthony’s Club (Oil) Mike’s Pastry, Parziale’s Bakery, LuLu’s Candy Shop, Flora Matarazzo, Michelle Tirella & ReRe, Dee (1-800-Flowers), St. Lucy, St. Anthony’s Society, Madonna Della Cava, Sulmona Club, Linda Riccio, Nick Varano, Carla Nazzaro DiOrio, Laurie D’Elia, Olivia Costa Scimeca, Nazzaro Center Kids, The Seniors (Ida-President), Carl Ameno, Kim Garofalo. Sabrina Dello Russo and the North End firefighters. It was also announced that State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz added a $1,000 contribution to Roseann’s recovery fund.

Keep up to date with Roseann through her Recovery Page at GoFundMe.com/Roseann.

It was an overflow BINGO crowd for the fundraiser at the Nazzaro Community Center.
Roseann presented a “Boston Strong” Red Sox jersey to her hero, Shores Salter.

See more posts about Roseann Sdoia and the Marathon Bombings.

Photos by Matt Conti.

NY Times Profiles Elena Barbera, Climbing for a Cause

Photo: Gretchen Erti for the New York Times

We recently profiled “Eliot School Mom” and Charlestown resident, Elena Barbera, about how she was climbing Bunker Hill Monument for a month to raise money for the 14 victims of the Boston Marathon attacks who are now amputees.

Friday’s New York Times features Elena and her efforts:

Elena Barbera, a writer who has lived in Boston for 14 years, climbs it every morning to look over a city slowly recovering from the Boston Marathon bombings, which, about one month ago, killed three people and injured more than 260.

“I’m not trying to beat any fitness records — I just have to get to the top every day,” said Ms. Barbera, a slight 39-year-old who is ascending the 294 steps of the monument’s stone spiral staircase for 30 days straight to raise money for the marathon attack’s amputees.

Continue reading at the New York Times.

North Ender Becca Griffin is organizing folks to climb with Elena and can be contacted at becca0923@yahoo.com.

Elena’s campaign has raised over $8,000 as of this writing. See more information and how to donate here.

North End’s Roseann Sdoia Gets Fire Department Escort Home After Release From Hospital

Roseann Sdoia, a North End resident that was severely injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, was released from the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital on Tuesday. She received a Fire Department escort home from Charlestown back to the North End. Roseann spoke about her recovery, shown in the TV news video below, at a press conference accompanied by the “guardian angels” that helped her on the day of the bombings. More updates on Roseann at her Recovery Fund website.