By Seth Daniel
For the fourth year, Marathon Daffodils delivered and displayed thousands of daffodils in businesses along Boylston Street, Boston’s busy Marathon finish line area for the 2016 BAA Boston Marathon, as well as Back Bay Streets, and Charles Street in Beacon Hill.
Marathon Daffodil founder Diane Valle of Charlestown, and co-founder Roberta Sydney of the South End, have expanded the program in four years to include the entire racecourse from Hopkinton to Boylston Street, and continue to move it to other parts of the city as an expression of Boston Strong.
“This project is a living tribute to the resilient spirit of Boston Strong,” said Valle. “Marathon Daffodils brings a sense of Hope and an enhanced sense of community to Boston. We are grateful for the support from our donors and the volunteers. It is wonderful to see people come together for another year to bring hope and beauty to the Marathon. We hope this spirit will continue.”
Sydney has said previously that she tacked onto Valle’s idea shortly after the Charlestown resident began working on it, thinking that daffodils coming up every year on the racecourse would be a way to not forget or minimize what happened over time.
“I think it’s a testament to the resilience and power of positive action in the face of horrific tragedy,” said Sydney after last year’s effort. “This is about rebirth and reclaiming the city. It’s so non-controversial. You don’t need to be a Democrat, a liberal, a Republican or a conservative. You just need to be a human being.”
Marathon Daffodils is an annual program founded in 2014 by Valle, a passionate urban horticulturist and a former florist in Boston, to bring beauty and a symbol of Hope to the Boston Marathon following the 2013 bombing. Since 2014, more than 130,000 daffodil bulbs have been planted along the 26.2-mile Marathon route as a living memorial, plus thousands of potted daffodils greet the runners, visitors, residents and workers on Boylston Street and, now, on Charles Street in Beacon Hill.
On April 14, Marathon Daffodils decorated the Boston Public Library at Copley Square and the BAA Finish Line area along Boylston Street. The Beacon Hill Garden Club distributed potted daffodils along Charles Street. The Flower Hutch, TDL Landscaping, Bartlett Greenhouses and Walnut Hill Landscaping helped with the delivery of the thousands of plants, grown at Olson Greenhouses.
Valle said Marathon Daffodils lift spirits and brighten stores, restaurants, offices and homes along the Marathon Finish Line area. Marathon Daffodils has been made possible by generous donors including the Mass Flower Growers Association, MA Nursery and Landscape Assn., Ropes & Gray, New Balance, MA Master Gardeners, Beacon Hill Garden Club, and other generous donors and hundreds of volunteers.
This year, a film crew followed the Marathon Daffodils on their adventure to the finish line to be used in a documentary film.
In coming years, both Valle and Sydney said they want to continue the expansion to other areas of the city usually connected to the Marathon directly, such as South Boston, Charlestown, the Seaport District and downtown Boston – among many other neighborhoods.