So what is all the fuss about Patriots’ Day?
Why is my student skipping a lovely home cooked dinner (and the chocolate bunny I bought her for Easter) to stay in Boston? I just don’t get it.
Those were my thoughts when my daughter, as a sophomore, skipped a chance to come home for the weekend because Patriots’ Day was Monday (always the third Monday in April) and she had “a lot of end-of-semester work to get done first.” Not a rookie, let’s call her a novice, on the scene that year. Turns out I was the Patriots’ Day rookie. I’ll bet there are other rookies out there, so I’ll take a minute here to get you up to speed.
Patriots’ Day is an official state holiday in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Maine too, by the way) commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord of the American Revolutionary War. Since it is always a three day weekend, it is a great time to celebrate, right?
On April 19, 1897, it all got better as the first Boston Marathon became an official Patriots’ Day event. Marathon Monday was born and it was a game changer. The Marathon runs through 8 cities and towns, starting in Hopkinton and ending in Boston’s Copley Square right smack dab in front of the Boston Public Library. To cheer on the runners, Marathon supporters line the route, which includes a large section of Beacon Street into Commonwealth Avenue at Kenmore Square, all the way from beginning to end. The Marathon is just a few short steps from Boston University’s Charles River campus. How cool is that?
Starting times from 8:50 AM to 11:15 AM ensure that waves of runners will pass by all morning and most of the afternoon. This is the only day of the year that your students will willingly get up at dawn, heading out with all their friends to “get their spot to view the Marathon and have breakfast” (or so my daughter said).
In 1960, to add to the absolute joy and chaos of Marathon Monday, the Boston Red Sox started playing a home game at Fenway Park at 11 AM. I guess, they thought more people in Kenmore Square would be a good thing.
Despite all of the happenings, here’s the real secret of Patriots’ Day Weekend: it is our Rite of Spring. The weekend has at least a shot at being sunny . . . and sometimes even warm. It is a shorts-come-out, where-are-those-flip-flops, will-I-need-sun-screen kind of day (please remind your students to wear sunscreen). There are more sunburns on campus the day after Patriots’ Day than there are on the entire Cape on 4th of July Weekend.
Patriots’ Day is special to anyone who experiences it, which is why my daughter knew exactly what was coming in her sophomore year and chose to experience it again. Wouldn’t you?
And don’t worry about the “celebration” part (please encourage your students to be responsible and to make wise decisions). Any student knows that getting up that early, expending all that Marathon Monday morning energy, requires stamina . . . and a nap. They will all be tucked away in their beds, safely snoring, by 3 PM. Then it’s back to the business at hand on Tuesday and most of them will show up to class well rested.
Happy Patriots’ Day, everyone. Enjoy Boston’s Marathon Monday . . . wherever you are.
Photo compliments of Dean Daryl DeLuca