By Tanya Strom
In the cold hours of an April morning, soon after dawn, runners from all over the world are gathering in Hopkinton, Massachusetts for the 119th Boston Marathon.
Loved ones share encouraging words while family members, friends and spectators settle along the route and claim their spot by the finish line.
Downtown Hopkinton is littered with athletes pinned with numbers, sporting brightly colored spandex. For months, they have been training for this day.
For seniors at Framingham State University, on the other hand, this is the last hoorah before graduation in three weeks, while freshmen, who saw last year’s party on local news, cannot stop thinking about how epic this year’s party is going to be.
Sam Richardson, a senior, woke up prepared to drink.
“Today is going to be fuzzy,” he said, a smile spreading across his face.
Julie Woytowicz, a freshman, said she had been “planning for today, for two weeks” with her friends. They bought alcohol in advance, arranged rides to Winthrop and back and planned outfits for all kinds of weather.
The Boston Marathon, in collaboration with Patriots Day, is considered the biggest drinking day of the year other than Saint Patrick’s Day for most college students at Framingham State.
One FSU freshman even went as far as to say she “can’t wait to die tomorrow,” referring to all the drinking her body would have to endure.
“I am so excited,” she added. “This is the biggest party of the year.” It is 7:30 a.m.
In the backyard of a house on Winthrop Street in Framingham, a large crowd of about 300 college students, almost everyone with a beverage in hand, is packed together like sardines. Coolers overflowing with beer cans, their lids winking open and closed, are being hauled from cars to the backyard. Students huddle in close circles around the coolers, and pass around a communal bottle of whiskey.
For ladies, the classic Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee cup with Styrofoam outside is the best way to keep beer cold and hands warm, while the gents carry red solo cups – although most can also be spotted with a Bud or Busch Light can in the other hand.
College students are shotgunning beers with friends and trying to carry on conversations about anything and everything that is not school related. Young women and men are taking selfies, capturing the spectacle on iPhone cameras for their Instagram accounts.
At 8:35 a.m., police arrive at the party and break it up.
“I’m not here to ruin your good time,” a female police officer with the Framingham Police Department said to the large crowd, “but there has been noise complaints.”
The house was quickly surrounded by a couple of cruisers and one campus police vehicle. Students fearful of getting arrested move further into the yard, others stood bewildered.
On Facebook, Framingham State students had coordinated this event in order to celebrate the Boston Marathon.
Individuals at the party were told by police that they could continue to drink and hang out, but only if they dispersed. The crowd moved away from the house and toward the adjacent road, on Route 135.
The street became somewhat like a block party. One student ran up and down the street waving an American Wag, after getting the police’s permission of course to do so first, stimulating the patriotic spirit.
Selfie sticks captured students posing with law enforcement officers and firefighters.
One junior came to the party early, and said that she never felt that the students were out of control or needed to be restrained.
“I think everyone came out for the same reason – to drink and have fun,” she said.
At 9:30 a.m. the rain had started to come down when the runners were starting to appear over the hill. Students were visibly tipsy as they cheered and held out their hands to high five them as they went by.
Runners toughed the race out, even in the uncomfortable running conditions, while students in raincoats shivered in the bitter rain, drinking more heavily to stay warm. A few runners even stopped to chug a beer with the students.
Although some students cheered on the runners, others stood away from the road, chatting with friends about their plans for after the race.
One persistent problem throughout the marathon party was finding a bathroom. Male students relieved themselves behind houses and cars, while female students would wait for 20 minutes in a line to use a bathroom with no toilet paper.
In addition to celebrating of Patriot’s Day and Marathon Monday, students were also celebrating 4/20, the unofficial marijuana holiday.
The culture of celebrating 4/20 was effortlessly integrated into the drinking extravaganza. There were a handful of students dressed head-to-toe in marijuana apparel – from pot leaf patterned socks to headbands.
One student, while taking a hit of marijuana said, “When life hands you a shandy, you drink it. When life hands you a dutty, you smoke it.”
By 2:30 p.m., the traffic of runners had begun to slow, as drenched students carrying half-full coolers crossed the street to get to the other side of Route 135 to reach their cars.
Students were parked at Keefe Tech High School, and were driven back to campus or to after-parties by their peers.
Hockey players on rollerblades held onto women walking down a decline in the sidewalk to slow their momentum so they wouldn’t roll into other students and pedestrians.
A group of female students preoccupied with making plans for where to go next left their cooler behind full of empty little Jell-O shot cups.
It is 5:30 p.m., and after a quick break for lunch, an afternoon nap and a change into dry clothes, students were off again.
At a small house party hosting roughly 30 people, students mingled, munched, swigged and puffed into the evening.
The day drinking that began earlier than the starting gun of the marathon continued into the afternoon and was prolonged into the night to the very dawn of the next morning. College students were drinking longer than runners participated in the race.
The event is “peer pressure at its greatest,” said junior Michael O’Shea. “But I wanted to do it anyway because getting f–ked up is fun.”