Boston Says Goodbye
By Rebecca Sananes
BU News Service
As the season’s first chilly, blustery snowfall fell, Bostonians stood in line by the thousands huddled under umbrellas, shivering in hats and gloves and waited hours to pay their respects to former-Mayor Thomas Menino who laid in-state surrounded by friends, family and peers at Faneuil Hall on Sunday.
It was here, in the historic hall that the former mayor delivered his first inaugural speech in 1994 and also, nearly 20 years later, where he announced he would not be seeking re-election.
Dignitaries were permitted in the hall promptly at 10am. Among those who came to pay respects to Mr. Menino and his family were Secretary of State John Kerry and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
The consensus of those who stood in line, including a group of city workers rubbing their hands together to stay warm, was that Mr. Menino would have waited in line with them. It was this sentiment, that Mr. Menino a part of his community that got people out of bed on a cold November morning. The first to arrive were in line at 8:30A.M. By noon the line looped around the block along Congress Street.
“The mayor came to the Pine Street Inn every Thanksgiving to help serve the residents,” recalled Ed Scheinbart, who has been a volunteer working to help the homeless community of Boston for 17 years. “He cared, he took interest. He was compassionate more than just his job [required],” said Scheinbart.
Billy Makarwicz stood shivering under an umbrella with his wife and daughter. “I met Menino while I was working as an equipment assistant for the Patriots. He came to one of the first games Tom Brady played, he was a nobody at the time, just bumped up, and I remember Mayor Menino saying ‘Welcome to New England!’”
Inside the hall, a collection of photographs of the mayor interacting with his beloved city lined the room as the cavalcade approached his casket.
Mr. Menino’s casket was surrounded by white flowers. A string quartet played somber music on the side of where he lay, a black rosary laced between his folded fingers. Members of the Boston Police and Fire Departments stood dutifully in uniform, watching over his body.
The atmosphere felt warm inside the great hall, against the grey morning outside. As the public passed through, Mr. Menino’s wife Angela, two children and six grandchildren gave and received hugs from mourners, thanking the public for attending.
The fast-paced city felt like a small town embracing the Menino family as their own. As Alyssa Griffith, 14, who was with her mother and father at Faneuil Hall said, “It’s the least we could do. I’m hopeful that we were comforting to them.”
Many people wore green ribbons on their lapel, the symbol of his campaign, while others carried green signs that read “Gracias Mr. Menino.” Abigail Torres, 7, who first met Mr. Menino when he read Christmas stories to her class at the Hyde Park library said: “ I wanted to write him a letter to tell him he will always be mayor to me.”
On Monday, Mr. Menino will leave Faneuil Hall in a procession around the city, stopping at notable places in his life, including a stop at Boston University. A private funeral will be held, following, at Most Precious Blood Church in Hyde Park, where he was baptized and served as an altar boy.