For the second straight year, Patriots’ Day will pass without throngs of runners lining up at the start line in Hopkinton and beginning the iconic 26.2 mile trek to Copley Square.
But the Boston Marathon will return. If all goes well, it will be held this October. And when the world comes back to Hopkinton, the Hopkinton Freedom Team is hoping to welcome everyone with messages of love from the town’s diverse residents.
“I think the marathon represents unity, everyone comes together during that one event,” said Charusmitha Ram, one of the organizers of the project. “I think last year people missed that, they missed the spirit of what this means to Hopkinton. We want everybody to feel the love, the unity — that’s why it’s called Love Letters.”
The love letters will be presented in the form of a three-to-five-minute film using videos and photographs from the people of Hopkinton. The Hopkinton Freedom Team (hopkintonfreedomteam.org) is working with HCAM, the 26.2 Foundation and filmmaker Karen Webb to put the film together.
Webb said the film will touch on the significance and importance of Hopkinton in the Boston Marathon as well as the Boston Athletic Association having to cancel the event last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the film will be created by the people of Hopkinton, who are encouraged to send in photos of encouragement or five-second video snippets with messages for the runners.
“We’d like to send this message, this love letter, out to the runners with all of the positive images and best wishes and generate some excitement,” Webb said.
“I do believe the core message of this project is love and unity and acceptance,” said Hopkinton Freedom Team member Freya Proudman. “What’s powerful is that we are able to present so much diversity, it’s an inclusive way to represent everyone.”
The Marathon Love Letters project began taking contributions from the community on Patriots’ Day, April 19, and will continue through May 30. Webb said the plan will be for the finished film to be done by around Labor Day, a little more than a month before the planned Oct. 11 Boston Marathon date.
Among those organizing the project is Lynn Canty, who ran Boston in 2017. She likened the struggle to overcome the disappointment of missing the race to the challenge presented in running the race itself.
“You never know what life is going to throw at you, something as big as this marathon that takes all this energy and then suddenly you can’t have it, it’s disappointing,” Canty said. “But as humans we are resilient, we keep going, we keep running. It’s just a parallel to what we have to do in our everyday lives, we keep pushing.”
Hopkinton Freedom Team member Cheryl Perreault said the filmmakers are hoping to achieve as much diversity as possible among those sending in messages to reflect the diverse population of Hopkinton. She encouraged all walks of life to contribute, including dogs and cats, and said there would be suggestions for props and different ways people can make their contributions as creative as possible.
“We are the starting line the whole world comes to one day a year,” Perreault said. “We want to send that love and feel the unity and show our love of this day and the people who come here.”