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Boston Marathon Notebook: Video crew calls Parmenter home

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Featured

Camera operator/director David Alan Arnold

Camera operator/director David Alan Arnold, who has filmed programs including “Deadliest Catch,” “The Amazing Race” and “Survivor” as well as the World Series, prepares equipment for last year’s rainy Boston Marathon.

When the Boston Marathon began using Hopkinton for its start line in 1924, local septic tank services company J.C. Parmenter already was four years running.

A century later, both are going strong. And Parmenter, as it has for about 25 years, will continue to play a small but important role related to television coverage of the event.

Filming the Boston Marathon is not an easy task. Unlike most other sporting events that are confined to stadiums or similar smaller playing areas, the marathon spreads out over a lengthy distance (26.2 miles) and requires a great deal of planning and coordination — along with lots of high-tech equipment and talented individuals who know how to make everything work.

The headquarters for this effort is the Parmenter building at 85 Hayden Rowe Street, across from Hopkinton Middle School.

“Because we’re right across from the Athletes Village [the pre-race gathering spot for runners at the middle school], they happened to see that we had a great space and asked us if we’d be interested in being taken over for a week,” recalled Parmenter president Sue Costanza, whose father was running the business at the time. “They need the garage and yard space. My dad said, ‘All right, that’s fine.’ We can’t get out [due to roads being closed for the race] anyway. Then they just became family.”

A team of camera people and coordinators descend on the Parmenter property starting about six days before the race and immediately get to work.

“They send a team of camera experts and coordinators and sports crews from all over,” Costanza said. “A lot of them are the people who film the Red Sox, the Celtics, the Bruins. Some do all the different marathons. A lot of them go out to Vegas and they film a car race that goes through the desert.”

Costanza said the crews are on site from about 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, preparing and testing equipment, strategizing and making adjustments. Under the guidance of veteran production crew leader Art Collins, work includes assembling the platforms for the trucks and motorcycles that will drive the course with cameras. Alterations are made based on weather conditions. Test runs typically are held the weekend before the race.

“They are, without a doubt, the hardest-working, smartest, MacGyver-like people,” Costanza said. “They all have a uniqueness and a special talent. It’s a crazy job in a short time. They have four or five days to make the magic happen. They come up with amazing things to make it work in all kinds of weather and other circumstances. And they are the most fun, with the best attitudes.”

While the crews (at least those from outside the area) sleep at nearby hotels, they spend most of their time at Parmenter, and they’ve become “like family” to the Parmenter people.

“It’s like a great homecoming each April,” Constanza said. “I always refer to them as ‘our boys,’ but they’re all grown men — and a few women. It’s an amazing cast, a fantastic group of people. Every year, I’m just amazed at what they do and how they do it. It’s really media magic.”

Author to discuss race at library

Author Paul Clerici will appear at the Hopkinton Public Library on Wednesday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m. to share stories about the iconic Boston Marathon. Clerici has written extensively on the race in the “Boston Marathon History by the Mile,” “Images of Modern America: The Boston Marathon” and newly released “Boston Marathon Traditions and Lore” books.

Clerici will describe and illustrate such traditions as the connection between the Greek god Zeus, the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., and the gold-dipped olive-branch wreaths each champion receives; the growth of the start and finish lines from simple origins as a single line to lavish colorful artistry; the unique athlete and culture exchange program with the Ohme-Hochi 30K in Japan that began with four-time Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers in the 1970s; statues and monuments along the course, including one of runner-sculptor Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon and who created the life-size statue herself; the ever-changing beauty of the finisher medal; the evolution of media coverage; the athlete villages, one of which began in 1996 to accommodate the race’s largest field of 38,000 for its centennial; and much more.

Clerici’s storytelling is supplemented with a multimedia presentation of images from his books, which include some from rare collections and some never seen before. Books will be available to purchase and can be signed by the author.

On a related note, the library held a reading marathon from Feb. 18-March 16 to celebrate the town’s connection to the race. Participants were challenged to read four days a week for a total of four weeks. For each week of reading logged, a librarian gave the participant five tickets to be entered into a prize basket.

“Just like marathon runners, good readers consistently practice and challenge themselves,” said library director Nanci Hill.

Gronk named grand marshal

New England Patriots legend Rob Gronkowski is serving as grand marshal for this year’s race. A four-time Super Bowl champion, Gronkowski was named the recipient of the 2024 Patriots’ Award, which is presented to a person or organization who is patriotic, philanthropic and inspirational, and fosters goodwill and sportsmanship.

Along with his family, Gronkowski founded the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation, which is dedicated to inspiring youth to reach their maximum potential through sports, education, community, and fitness. The current project of the foundation involves constructing Gronk Playground on the Charles River Esplanade.

“Giving back has always been a priority in my life,” Gronkowski said. “When I first got to New England, [Patriots owner Robert] Kraft and the Patriots Foundation ingrained in the team the importance of giving back to the community that gives back to us. And this community has supported me throughout my entire career. Now it’s time for me to give back to help set others up for their own journey, especially the youth. This is why the Gronk Playground project is close to my heart.”

In his role as grand marshal, Gronkowski will tour the marathon course from Hopkinton to Boston on Marathon Monday in an all-electric 2024 Honda Prologue, delivering the trophy to the finish line ahead of the athletes.

The BAA also announced that Black Girls RUN! is the recipient of the 2024 Dick and Rick Hoyt Award, to be presented at the BAA Gives Back Celebration on Saturday, April 13. This award is presented to a person or organization who exhibits spirit through advocacy and inclusion.

New sponsor debuts this year

Bank of America was introduced last year as the new presenting partner of the Boston Marathon beginning with this year’s race. The agreement is for 10 years.

“We embark on the next great era for running in Boston and around the world with Bank of America as our partner in all that we do, most notably the Boston Marathon,” said Jack Fleming, president and CEO of the Boston Athletic Association. “With alignment in values and commitment to both communities and leadership, we’ll work together to enhance one of the world’s great participatory sporting events. Bank of America will partner with us at every stage to grow, broaden and innovate new pathways in running,”

In recognition of the Boston Marathon’s 127-year heritage and iconic stature, Bank of America has elected that the organization’s name will appear after the words “Boston Marathon” in the event’s new official title: The Boston Marathon presented by Bank of America.

“Together, the BAA and Bank of America will keep Boston front and center to ensure the marathon remains a source of pride and passion for so many,” Fleming said. “Through this new partnership with Bank of America, we will expand social, economic and inclusive programs for local residents, businesses, neighborhoods and communities.”

Historical Society designs medallion

The Hopkinton Historical Society is selling Boston Marathon keepsake ornaments to benefit the organization. The front of the ornament includes a historical photograph of the Boston Marathon in 1938, and the reverse side can be engraved with a runner’s name, the year they ran the Boston Marathon and their official finish time.

The keepsake costs $30 plus a small shipping fee.

More information can be found at hopkhistsoc.org or by emailing hopkhistsoc@hotmail.com.

Brewer back with new can

Hopkinton’s Start Line Brewing debuted its annual Marathon IPA — brewed each marathon season — on March 20. This year’s can depicts the Town Common statue of George Brown firing the starter’s pistol.

Previous iterations have honored Hopkinton marathoner Wayde Marshall, the planned International Marathon Center, women’s marathon pioneer Bobbi Gibb, 26.2 Foundation Executive Director Tim Kilduff and Team Hoyt.

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