If you’re one of the many local marathoners heading to Boston later this month, you’re probably going to come back with one of these around your neck.
It started as a knitting project among some of the people at Boston’s Old South Church, which sits on the corner of the block where two bombs shattered last year’s marathon, killing three and injuring more than 250 others. It calls itself “Church of the Finish Line.”
For years, the knitters have knitted prayer scarves. But Marilyn Jackson Adams, whose son was a mile away and running toward the finish line, wanted to show her son how much she admired his courage. So she turned to knitting a marathon scarf.
“I’ve always liked the thought of having warmth and comfort for someone in need and this scarf project just really meant kind of the same to me,” scarf knitter Mary Thomas tells New England Cable News.
It’s a nice little story. But it’s not the story. This is:
Word of the project got out. People wanted to help. The church wanted to give a scarf to as many runners as possible, but there are over 30,000 of them. So they issued a plea and a few requirements: Scarves should be interwoven with love and courage, measuring approximately 4 to 6 inches wide and 60 inches long, any pattern, containing the colors blue and yellow, the marathon’s official colors.
This week, boxes of scarves have been arriving at the church:
Over a thousand a day are showing up from nearly every state, including Minnesota. Only eight states haven’t sent scarves.
The Muslim community, too, picked up the ball and encouraged people to knit.
So many scarves were arriving that the post office added a truck delivery each day. More than 2,000 have been sorted so far but there are more boxes to go through.
“The women are upstairs now trying to sort all of these scarves and they come with notes and wonderful messages,” Rev. Nancy Taylor said this afternoon, “it’s really lovely.”
The first distribution of scarves will come at a service on April 15, the anniversary of the bombing. “We’ll invite any marathoner to come and rise and we bless them and scarf them,” she said. “We do it in silence; it’s a beautiful thing.”
On the Friday before the Marathon, two “teams” in the Marathon — Boston Strong and One Fund — will be scarved. On Saturday, marathoners in a 12-step program — known as Runners in Recovery — will be blessed and on Easter Sunday, scarves will be given to marathoners who attend.
There aren’t enough scarves — yet — for everyone who’s running, but Rev. Taylor says they’re adjusting their plans as more scarves arrive. “We may just have people outside on the weekend who ‘scarve’ runners.”