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Banners signal Marathon’s return

Marathon Sports’ Shane O’Hara (left), unveiled a new banner with Boston running star Bill Rodgers.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Marathon Sports’ Shane O’Hara (left), unveiled a new banner with Boston running star Bill Rodgers.

Marking the unofficial start to Marathon season, workers began hanging more than 500 Boston Marathon banners from light poles Thursday, heralding the return of the city’s cherished race that was marred last year by bomb blasts that killed three and injured more than 260 people.

In a brief ceremony on Boylston Street, on the spot where one of the bombs exploded in front of Marathon Sports, Mayor Martin J. Walsh told a small crowd that in Boston, warmer weather is a harbinger of baseball, flowers budding in the Public Garden, and Boston Marathon banners flapping in the breeze.

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“This year, they carry a little more significance,” Walsh said as passersby stopped to listen. “The banners are a sign of Boston’s resilience.”

There are a dozen different designs for the banners, but all include the race’s motto, “We run together.”

“For more than a decade, we’ve gathered in this exact spot near the finish line of the Boston Marathon to unveil these Marathon banners,” said James D. Gallagher, general counsel and chief administrative officer for John Hancock, the race’s sponsor. “This year especially it was important to us that we return to this same location because the Boston Marathon belongs to us and that will never change.”

Marathon organizers turned last year’s banners into bracelets that will be given to each of the 36,000 runners expected for this year’s race on April 21. The wristbands are also available for purchase online, with all proceeds going to the One Fund, which benefits victims of the bombings.

One special banner was also unveiled Thursday outside of Marathon Sports. Unlike the others, it does not include an image of a runner. Instead, the yellow banner depicts a heart bisected by an open road leading to the word Boston.

‘This year especially it was important to us that we return to this same location because the Boston Marathon belongs to us and that will never change.’

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“Runners are great, kind people, and that kindness happened on a terrible day of tragedy,” said Marathon Sports manager Shane O’Hara, who struggled to keep his composure after unveiling the banner. “People helped out. They didn’t think of anything else but to help out complete strangers and people that were hurt.”

The running of this year’s Marathon will also show runners’ resilience, O’Hara said, “that we will finish. And we’re back.”

Andrew Ryan can be reached at acryan@globe.com Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.
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