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Spectators, supporters return to the Forum

One year after the Boston Marathon bombings, race fans gathered at Forum restaurant in Boston, scene of the second blast.
One year after the Boston Marathon bombings, race fans gathered at Forum restaurant in Boston, scene of the second blast.

It was not quite 10 in the morning, and Kris Chupka and two friends were at the Forum Bar and Restaurant near the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston with flowers already in hand, ready to cheer for his wife in her second attempt at the race she never got to finish.

Jennifer Gallagher was there, too, determined to revisit the place where the second bomb went off last year, because if her son could come back to run again, along with his wife, then she would be with them.

“You have to come and see it through,” said Gallagher, 50, of Southborough.


The supporters and spectators came throughout the morning and into the afternoon, long after the elite runners had finished the race and left.

And for many of those who were at the Forum last year when tragedy struck, there was something special about returning to the spot on Monday with friends and family members, a chance for even the nonrunners to finish what they had not completed last year.

“No one outside these walls knows what happened [here] last year, but these people do,” said Chris Loper, 41, the Forum’s general manager, who recalled teenage busboys and hostesses rushing to help the injured in those long moments before emergency medical technicians arrived; the dishwasher rushed out of the kitchen with ice for people struck by shrapnel.

Many of them returned Monday, even those who have since left the business.

“It just shows how close we’ve gotten over the last year, and we wanted to be together,” Loper said. “For some people, it was to get closure. For some, it was to celebrate.”

Heather Abbott, of Rhode Island, whose left leg was amputated below the knee because of injuries from the blast, returned with a crowd wearing “Heather Strong,” T-shirts so that they could cheer on one of the Forum’s employees, who raced Monday for the first time.


“I’m looking forward to having some new memories,” Abbott said.

As spectators drank beer, rang cowbells, and cheered until they were hoarse, countless runners stopped for a moment in front of the restaurant to acknowledge its role in last year’s tragedy.

One paused, knelt, and made the sign of the cross before continuing on down Boylston Street to the finish line.

Forum is home to the Joe Andruzzi Foundation’s Boston Marathon viewing party and fund-raiser, and it was sold out Monday.

Some 300 people stopped in throughout the day. The charity, founded by Andruzzi, the former New England Patriots player, supports the families of people fighting cancer, and the foundation fielded 47 runners this year, doubling its typical roster.

“We want to finish what we started,” Andruzzi, a cancer survivor himself, said Monday.

Amy Baker of Quincy was there to support her sister, Tama, a nurse who was at the Forum last year with other family members and friends and returned this year to run.

“It’s resiliency, like Boston,” said their aunt, Lynda-Lee Sheridan, of Milton. Tama, she said, “never would have run this Marathon if it weren’t for what happened last year.”

When the bombs exploded last year, Gallagher, the mother from Southborough, was on the second floor of the restaurant, cheering on her son, JP, just seven minutes away at the time.

A year later she was back, this time on the street level, cheering him on again.


Her son, 27, finished with a personal record, at 3 hours 11 minutes.

And an hour later, he too was in front of the restaurant, cheering on his wife, Melynda, who vowed to run the race with JP after the horror she saw last year.

“She’s happy, I’m happy,” he said. “The fact that she was able to run strong, past this place, it’s big for her.”

More from the 2014 Boston Marathon — Cullen: Just like the days we used to know | Gasper: Boston reclaims its Marathon | Photos: Marathon scenes | The ‘Scream Tunnel’ and Heartbreak Hill | The elite runners | Boylston Street | Videos from the Marathon | Full coverage

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.