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Marathon finish line remains a crime scene, but life goes on around it

On Saturday morning, a silent crowd had gathered at the barricades still surrounding the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street. At their backs, the street hummed with activity: businesses were open, and people sat outside coffee shops and talked. But at the barricades, the crowd was still.

“It’s good to share this,” said Luc de Waal, 25, who came with his running group to pay his respects. “People do something like this to your city… it’s beyond words.”

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The metal barriers surrounding a still active crime scene have been covered with tributes: a handmade American flag, painted with the words “Boston Strong,” Red Sox jerseys, balloons, notes, and flowers piled upon flowers.

Though much of Boston appeared to be returning to normal Saturday, a swath of the Back Bay remains part of the FBI’s investigation into Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon. The Copley T station remained closed, because it is part of the crime scene, and military police were stationed at Arlington Station, Park Street, and elsewhere.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced today that as soon as the FBI gives its OK, the city will work quickly to clean the sidewalks and streets and ensure the structural integrity of buildings, and will allow staggered access to inspectors and business owners.

“We believe that some blocks may be ready to open more quickly than other,” the mayor’s statement reads. “We are committed to working as hard as possible to reopen the entire area.”

On Saturday morning, businesses outside the crime scene along Boylston Street had opened their doors after the city’s shutdown Friday, and one store owner said the area was busier than usual.

Still, it was a strange return to daily life, with many pausing at the memorial in the middle of otherwise unremarkable routines.

De Waal said his small group was scheduled to run a road race today, but that it had been canceled.

They decided to run anyway, he said, and to stop at the growing shrine. They ran, he said, “to show that Boston is ours.”

“It’s surreal,” said Adam Stillman, 39, who was out for a walk with his wife, Susan Zollo, 43, and their two dogs.

It is a route they walk regularly, the South End couple said, but this was the first time they had been back to the Marathon site since the bombings.

“I think people want to return to normal,” said Zollo. “We’re so proud and so ready to return to normal. But we’re never going to forget.”

At the barricades, they prayed.

“A blessing,” said Zollo. “Just in my own words.”

Therapy dogs weaved their way through the crowd at the memorial, nuzzling the backs of people’s knees to get their attention. “Do you want to pet them?” asked Linda Alberda, again and again.

Alberda, 56, flew to Boston from Cleveland on Friday with her daughter and their two dogs, Hardy and Soapy, who wear bright yellow vests inviting hugs.

Alberda has seen the aftermath of other tragedies, she said – she brought the dogs to Newtown, Ct., and has worked closely with students affected by a school shooting in her own state.

“I can tell you, it will never be the same again. But it will be okay,” she said.

A heavy police presence remained around the perimeter of the crime scene. White tents were set up at the intersection of Dartmouth and Boylston, and bright orange lines had been spray painted on the pavement around potential evidence.

In the distance beyond the barricades, investigators in white suits could be seen working in the area near the blasts. Debris and overturned trash cans were scattered along the street, and metal barricades that had been set up along the route were stacked on the sidewalks. Traffic lights along the empty street continued to change, yellow, then red, then green.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com
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