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Daffodils line Boston’s path toward spring, healing

Despite another Patriots’ Day devoid of marathon runners trekking across the city, the Boston Seaport and a Boston-area nonprofit are working to keep the spirit of the race alive and bring some spring-time joy to the community.

daffodil planted in a garden
Daffodils are being planted across Boston to commemorate the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and bring joy to Boston residents. HANNAH YOSHINAGA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

WS Development — a Boston-based mixed-use real estate developer — partnered with Marathon Daffodils Friday to deliver thousands of daffodils to frontline workers at Boston-area hospitals for the second annual Marathon Daffodils for Frontline Workers program.

Emily Soukas, senior manager of activations and partnerships at WS Development, said the program for health care workers began last year at the onset of the pandemic.

“A year later, those health care workers have had no break,” she said. “It was important for us to be able to donate those plants again … to give some extra cheer and an extra dose of gratitude and thanks to all those frontline workers.”

Lauren Tedeschi, the development officer of events and programs at Tufts Medical Center, said Friday’s delivery was a nice way to end the week.

“I think they were incredibly grateful for it,” she said. “There was a little note inside each flower, so I know they really appreciated it.”

The bulbs traveled all the way from Holland and were stored over the winter, said Founder and President of Marathon Daffodils Diane Valle.

Although no one was anticipating another canceled Boston Marathon, she said they made the most of the situation by continuing the Marathon Daffodils for Frontline Workers project.

“We decided we would do the same thing again, and our donors are generous and kind and said yes to that,” she said. “We had some opportunity to also share them around the city of Boston, so that people could have a little boost to their spirit.”

Marathon Daffodils also worked to place the flowers around the city.

Valle decided to plant daffodils along the marathon route, from Boston to Hopkinton — 26.2 miles — with the help of fundraisers and volunteers after the marathon was bombed in 2013. This decision turned into an eight-year annual event, which she said lights up the city “like candlelit service.”

“When the bombing happened, it was unbelievable that somebody would disrupt this magnificent event,” she said. “The following year, we did not want to surrender our special holiday to a tragedy like that.”

The Seaport is also hosting the 20 Knots: Daffodils for Boston exhibit — created by Brooklyn artist Daniele Frazier in 2019 — which is named after the wind measurements that would allow for the balloon-like wind socks to be fully inflated.

Soukas said the wind socks serve as a tribute to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and a celebration of spring and the marathon.

“Last year during the pandemic, even though the marathon could not take place, we still decided to put up the art installation,” she said, “because we thought, especially in lockdown, people needed more cheer than ever.

Valle added that the exhibit serves as a way to lift spirits, especially with the daffodils displayed on windowsills of surrounding Seaport restaurants and stores.

“People are sitting underneath them and walking through them, and it’s just like kites in the sky that look like daffodils,” she said. “It’s just a very cheerful brightening up because at this time of year, Boston can be blue sky, but is kind of gray and brown. So, the beautiful yellow flowers are really a nice pick-me-up.”

Michael Piscitelli is the writer, director and executive producer of “Path of the Daff” — which is airing on the Boston Neighborhood Network this week — a Marathon Daffodils documentary that highlights the daffodil bulbs’ journey from the Netherlands to Boston and emphasizes community and perseverance.

Piscitelli created the documentary with his brother, who was about 60 feet away from the bombing at the finish line. He said he made the film for his brother and for all Bostonians.

Growing up in Boston, he added that the marathon has always meant one thing to him: community. And the energy around the event hasn’t changed — even in the almost 35 years since Piscitelli was a child handing out water to runners.

“You all come together and celebrate each other,” Piscitelli said. “It’s for the runners. It’s for Boston. It’s for everybody cheering these people on. It’s for each other.”

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  1. Great article!