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Revelers arrive early for prime view of Boston Pops rehearsal

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  July 3, 2012 03:38 PM

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(Photo by Johanna Kaiser for

By noon on Tuesday, more than a dozen spectators were waiting to gain entry to the Esplanade’s Hatch Shell for the Boston Pops rehearsal concert. The July 3 rehearsal starts at 8:20 p.m.

They come early, they come often, and they come ready to celebrate Independence Day with the Pops, if not the bangs.

More than a dozen eager spectators had lined up at the gates of the Charles River Esplanade’s Hatch Shell by noon Tuesday to ensure their front-row seats for the Boston Pops orchestra rehearsal of their signature July 4th concert more than eight hours away.

Dressed in varying amounts of red, white, and blue, the dedicated Fourth fans napped, read, snacked and chatted as crews tested microphones, lights, and monitors to prepare for the night that would feature the Boston Pops, Dropkick Murphys, and Jennifer Hudson, but no fireworks.

“It’s America’s birthday, and we’re honored to have the Pops perform here for us for free,” said Bolton resident Maryann Rollings, who wore star-shaped sunglasses, a red, white, and blue top hat, and a sparkling wig.

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(Photo by Johanna Kaiser for

From left: Linda Stacy, of Ashby; Gloria Kelley, of Gardner; Elaine Bitter, of Leominster; and Maryann Rollings, of Bolton pose for a photograph as they wait in line for the Boston Pops rehearsal.

Rolling’s three friends--one dedicated attendee and two newcomers--wore similar celebratory outfits and as they passed around grapes and cookies from a cooler filled with treats and sandwiches.

Rollings, who will head to the Cambridge side of the Charles to watch the fireworks with friends Wednesday, said the celebrations were a perfect way to honor the country and the soldiers whose service allows citizens the freedom to have fun with a diverse group of people.

“It’s a great testament to America ... to have such a large group of people together enjoying themselves,” she said.

The group’s two newcomers were also eager to see the show and already promising to return next year.

“Oh I love it,” said Elaine Bitter, of Leominster, who is not disappointed about missing tomorrow’s fireworks display. “I kind of like it better without the fireworks.”

Closer to the front of the line, Damien Valley, 18, of Lowell, wasn’t as colorfully dressed, but was eager to see the Dropkick Murphys at the July 3 concert he and his parents attend every year.

"I’ve only seen them once, I’ve seen the Pops more,” said Valley, who said all the buildup and crowds help make the Boston show the best he’s been to -- even if he doesn’t see the fireworks show.

While the line might impress some, Valley noted that more people are usually in line by midday and wondered if the some fans stuck at work for the weekday event.

But the line wouldn’t stay short for long as more and more groups rolled up with coolers and set up camp ready to catch the show and join the party.

“It wouldn’t be the same if there weren’t so many people,” Valley said.
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