With all of the talk about strollers and bags being banned from this year’s Boston Marathon, is it really feasible for parents to bring their young children to the event?
The simple answer: Yes.
In response to last year’s bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line that killed three spectators, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Boston Athletic Association released updated security guidelines for this year’s marathon.
According to the guidelines, spectators located along the course are “discouraged from possessing” a list of items, including backpacks, suitcases and rolling bags, any container that can hold more than one liter of liquid, and blankets or comforters.
So parents can bring bags or containers for liquids, but these items will be subject to security screenings.
Strollers are not listed as one of the discouraged items for spectators. Based on MEMA’s guidelines, only official runners in the race are banned from bringing strollers to the event. During a press conference hosted by Mayor Martin J. Walsh on April 12, spectators were encouraged to leave large items, like backpacks and strollers, at home. However, these items have not been prohibited.
There are, however, certain areas that will have heightened security rules, which means that many of the items listed above will be prohibited for both participants and spectators in some of these areas, which include:
- The John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo in Boston
- The invitation-only grand stand seating at the Finish Line
- The Athletes’ Village in Hopkinton
- B.A.A. buses/vehicles (from Boston Common to Hopkinton, and shuttle buses within Hopkinton)
- Several secure spectator viewing areas around the start line in Hopkinton.
So if you’re a parent planning to bring any of these items, you may be delayed when passing through security checkpoints and enhanced screening areas. To avoid these delays, MEMA provides this advice to spectators:
Spectators along the entire race route -- including in Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and Boston -- are encouraged to carry personal items in clear plastic bags. Using a clear plastic bag to carry personal items will enhance public safety and speed security screening. In all cases, spectators should keep their personal items under their immediate control at all times.
Read MEMA’s complete security guidelines memo here.