The throngs started showing up before the 7 a.m. opening, hungry for pancakes but hungrier for company at the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown. By 11 a.m. the line still was out the door, mixed with onlookers snapping photos of the eatery that hours earlier had been shuttered by strict order of police.
“Usually we don’t like the crowds, but today we wanted it,” said Jim Racette, 52, of Watertown, a library staffer at Boston University who gleefully waited 20 minutes with other breakfast-seekers before ordering scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, and pancakes. “We wanted to mix with other people after being so isolated.”
Across the region, but particularly in besieged Watertown, people fanned out of homes, freed from lock-down and the terror of gunfire ringing out in the night. They resumed Saturday routines with a determined blissfulness, rejoicing in the sheer normalcy of it all.
At the Arsenal Mall Target in Watertown, the police staging area during the unprecedented manhunt Friday for one of the two alleged Marathon bombers, Shannon Falkson, a life coach who lives in Chestnut Hill, loaded her Toyota minivan with lemonade, Goldfish snack packs, and Lego sets for her 8-year-old son’s birthday party — which she would have cancelled had the siege not ended. Hovig Margosian, 14, suited up as goalie for practice with the Watertown Youth Lacrosse Team.
In the Back Bay, Adam Stillman, 39, and his wife, Susan Zollo, 43, walked their two dogs along their regular route down Boylston Street, venturing for the first time as far as the makeshift memorial of flowers and Red Sox memorabilia at the start of the crime scene at Berkeley Street.
“We’re so proud and so ready to return to normal,” Zollo said. “But we’re never going to forget.”
Everywhere, there were lingering signs of the mayhem that had unfolded hours earlier. Television camera crews staked out the entry to the Arsenal Mall. Yellow tape blocked entry to Watertown’s Franklin Street, where suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, hiding in a boat in a backyard, was captured Friday night. Onlookers Saturday gathered to gawk at the scene and thank officers standing sentry.
A State Police trooper, who was also at the scene of Friday night’s standoff, said “literally thousands” of pedestrians and drivers had stopped to thank police officers.
“Usually, we get people not waving at us with their whole hand, if you know what I mean,” he said, as passing cars tapped on horns and waved. “It definitely makes you feel appreciated.”
A heavy police presence remained around the cordoned-off crime scene in Boston’s Back Bay where white tents stood at the intersection of Dartmouth and Boylston streets and bright orange lines on pavement denoted potential evidence.
Beyond the barricades, white-suited investigators worked. Debris and overturned trash cans lay scattered and metal barricades once set up along the route were stacked on sidewalks. The Copley MBTA station remained closed while military police staffed Arlington Station.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino said Saturday that when the FBI gives the OK, the city will work to clean the sidewalks and streets, ensure the structural integrity of buildings, and then allow staggered access to inspectors and business owners.
“We believe that some blocks may be ready to open more quickly than other,” the mayor’s statement read. “We are committed to working as hard as possible to reopen the entire area.”
Businesses in the crime scene remained closed Saturday. But outside the perimeter of the scene, others had reopened.
“It was a no-brainer,” said Jack Winer, manager at Lux Bond & Green on Boylston, of the decision to reopen on Wednesday. “We feel like the threat’s over.”
Shuttered Back Bay churches inside the cordoned-off zone scrambled to find spaces for Sunday services. Trinity Church worshipers planned to gather at Temple Israel of Boston.
The Old South Church moved its services to the Church of the Covenant as its members tried to grasp its closing and the terrible reason for it. The last time the church was closed for such a lengthy period was 1775, when British troops evicted members.
“It’s not business as usual,” said the Rev. Nancy S. Taylor, senior minister of Old South Church.
Back Bay church members will come together on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. to pray and sing at the intersection of Boylston and Berkeley streets — a moment, as the organizers put it, “to reclaim Boylston Street with our prayers; rededicating its beauty.”
Boston-area colleges, many of which were closed during the shutdown Friday, are planning a return to routine.
Classes will be held Monday at Boston University, when the university will also hold a memorial service on campus in the evening for 23-year-old graduate student Lingzi Lu, who was killed in Monday’s blasts.
MIT, whose campus Police Officer Sean Collier was killed allegedly by the suspected bombers on Thursday night, will also be holding classes Monday, and is planning events to honor the officer.
From Boston to Cambridge to Watertown and beyond, strangers reached out to one another, keenly aware of being connected for having lived through a seize of terror.
In Harvard Square, joggers wearing “Boston Strong” and Boston Marathon T-shirts ran down Massachusetts Avenue, smiling and high-fiving pedestrians. To no one in particular, one Watertown resident called out, “It’s a brighter day today!” And in scene after scene across the region, neighbors greeted one another like long-distance friends at a reunion.
“Yeah! We’re alive,” Roberta Nicoloro shouted as she hugged neighbors after emerging from her home in Watertown, her hometown.
For many, the day’s liberty brought a bubbling sense of patriotism.
“I’m proud,” said Kevin Rooney who wore his American-flag decaled shirt, which he usually reserves for July 4, as he and his wife walked their Alaskan huskie, Nana, in Watertown. “It’s a good day to be an American and I’m proud to be from Watertown where that monster was caught.”
Across Watertown, where yellow forsythia bloomed and trees were bursting with buds, streets thronged with residents eager to breathe spring air after being stuck behind bolted doors a day earlier. Others came to view pivotal sites in the standoff that played out on television screens, snapping photos and musing that such events could have taken place on Watertown streets of gabled Victorians.
For those who witnessed the mayhem from windows and front doors, Saturday brought a day-after feeling — best expressed, at times, in a native language. “Ressaca,” said Katia Araujo, using the Portuguese word for hungover.
From her apartment window, Araujo had watched police SWAT teams arrive. From her back door, she saw police searching homes. Her 12-year-old son found a bullet that police later confiscated.
“Today, I am going to get a coffee,” she said, with a brimming determination she never imagined having to summon to run to Starbucks.
Later, she said, she was taking her son bowling.