On the Vineyard everybody knows somebody in Boston. Over the past week, in the aftermath of Monday’s bombing during the 117th Boston Marathon, flags flew at half-mast across the Island in honor of the victims of the attacks as Vineyarders took time both to reflect and to offer help to those in need.
The Vineyarders who participated in the run were unharmed.
Marylee Schroeder, 48, of West Tisbury, ran the 26.2 mile route in a personal best three hours and 38 minutes, passing by her family, who had made the off-Island trip to watch her run, friends of her daughter, and running acquaintances she had met in previous races. It was her tenth time on the course, and a perfect day for running, she told the Gazette this week.
Mrs. Schroeder finished the race about 45 minutes before the first of two bombs exploded on Boylston street near the marathon finish line. She was, by tradition, at a restaurant about a mile away from the finish with fellow Vineyarders.
“Every time I see the news, I just can’t believe I was there and that someone would do something like that,” she said.
Robert Knight, whose sister Margaret lives on Chappaquiddick and writes a column for the Gazette, was standing by the baggage bus, three blocks away from Boylston, having finished the marathon some 15 minutes before. In an e-mail to the Gazette, Mr. Knight described a “big noise and lots of billowing smoke.”
Kim O’Callaghan of Vineyard Haven, owner of Morrice Florist, was in the changing tent, having just wrapped up her 14th marathon. Those in the tent had heard the noises, she said, but “it didn’t register with anyone that it could be anything bad.” When she left the tent, Ms. O’Callaghan said, the streets were largely empty but for emergency vehicles.
“It didn’t really register until I saw it in the news,” she said. “I just kept going to find everyone I was supposed to meet.”
Mr. Knight walked a mile and a half to the Northeastern campus to meet his wife, exchanging some 50 text messages en route. He had already picked up his belongings, he said, but continued to think about the thousands of runners who had not been able to finish the race and were without their clothing, phones, and Mylar finishing blankets even as a chilly wind picked up.
Mrs. Schroeder’s phone also was consumed by text messages from friends and family as she and her husband Joe headed back to their hotel, where they met up with their children. The Schroeders at first were told they wouldn’t be able to leave the city because roads were closed off, but eventually made their way out of Boston. Although they were checking out much earlier than scheduled, the hotel did not charge anything.
Ms. O’Callaghan had the same experience. “Even leaving the parking garage, they didn’t make us pay,” she said. “People were so polite and nice about [everything].”
As of Thursday afternoon, the FBI-led search for those responsible was ongoing. As has been widely reported, three people died and more than 180 were injured by the explosions.
Chilmark selectmen began their weekly meeting on Tuesday with a moment of silence to remember the victims and injured. Selectman Jonathan Mayhew took special note of eight-year-old Martin Richard, who died in the incident and had close family friends in Chilmark.
“We’re all a little bit sad today, particularly in Chilmark,” Mr. Mayhew said. “[Martin] was a friend of Malia Scott and Jennifer Christy. It’s a very sad thing for all of the families.”
At the West Tisbury selectmen’s meeting Wednesday, the board also held a moment of silence. Selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd, a long-distance runner himself, noted the outpouring of support from the Vineyard community. Mr. Manter ran in the Boston Marathon in 2009, and on Wednesday he wore a marathon shirt to the meeting and brought his medal.
“I’ve been touched by the amount of people who called and left a message,” he said. Mr. Manter frequently speaks of preserving the unique character of the town, but spoke on that day to the uniqueness of the community at large, “the things you can’t see, the people themselves and feelings and compassion they have.”
Remarking on his regular run on Tuesday, Mr. Manter said “there was a different spirit of people going by,” with people honking and waving as they drove by.
“In general we’ve seen the best and we’ve certainly seen the worst,” selectman Richard Knabel added.
Earlier on Wednesday, some of the best of the Vineyard had traveled to Boston to provide relief to Hub-area SWAT teams. Oak Bluffs Lieut. Tim Williamson told the Gazette that he and other members of the tactical team were headed to Boston to take a 12-hour shift, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. He said two teams from Cape Cod had already gone to Boston to support the first responders. The tactical response team is a highly-trained group composed of members from Island police departments.
Lieutenant Williamson said he could not divulge much information about what team members would be doing, but said they would likely provide site security. He said they would mainly be there “just to give those guys some relief and much-needed rest.”
Because the tactical team is partially funded by Homeland Security money, Lieutenant Williamson said the team is expected to help during events like Monday’s bombing. He reached out to offer assistance and the team was asked to come for a shift Wednesday night.
“People were unbelievable,” Ms. O’Callaghan said of the immediate aftermath. “So calm, and everybody was just bonded together. It really brought out the good in Boston.”
The Boston Marathon is “like a party,” she said. “The energy is so positive and so good, people are so happy . . . no, they’re not going to ruin that. I’m in next year.”
Mrs. Schroeder agreed. “I would not even consider not doing it,” she said.
Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino have formed The One Fund Boston. Donations will go to support those most directly affected by the marathon violence. More information is available at theonefund.org. To donate to the Boston First Responders Fund, visit bosfirecu.com/. In a statement, the Red Cross said it had enough blood to meet the current needs of patients.
Sara Brown and Remy Tumin contributed reporting.