SALEM — It was a powerful image: More than 1,000 people walking around the Common just after dusk, carrying American flags and flickering candles.
Among the crowd were people of all ages, walkers with dogs and parents pushing children in strollers. Many wore Boston Marathon jackets or jerseys and hats from their favorite Boston sports teams. Friends and families chatted as they walked.
Last night’s gathering on the Salem Common was organized to remember and honor those affected by the explosions that went off near the Boston Marathon finish line Monday afternoon.
Ana Morais, who recently moved to Salem, said she was moved by the sight of the walkers circling the Common.
“(This) show of force is what we need,” said Morais, who clutched a flag and a candle as she watched. “It’s very emotional.”
Last night’s event began with a “last mile” run around the Common, a symbolic run of the final mile that many marathoners weren’t able to complete on Monday. The crowd gathered at the Common gazebo for a brief speaking program, and the evening concluded with the candlelight walk.
Salem resident Mike Kapnis wore a Bruins hat and walked with a large American flag flying on a hockey stick.
Coming to last night’s gathering was “automatic,” he said.
“Just coming together, praying for everyone, I think it’s great. A great tribune,” Kapnis said.
Salem’s Paul Madore Chorale kicked off the speaking program by leading the national anthem and “God Bless America.”
“Here in Salem, we needed to do something (after Monday’s events),” Mayor Kim Driscoll said. “I felt like the first big step was coming together. Coming together is a way to stand for Boston.”
Salem resident John Young was less than a mile from the finish line on Monday when the marathon was abruptly halted by the explosions. Young and a friend had hoped to be the first dwarfs on record to run a Boston Marathon.