Monday, March 31, 2014

South Boston Youth Hockey players bring a little cheer to somber Boston Firefighters...


Engine 33 and Ladder 15 — still shaken and mourning two comrades lost in last week’s Back Bay fire — had their spirits lifted yesterday by a troupe of players from South Boston Youth Hockey who serenaded them with surprise renditions of “God Bless America” and the national anthem.
“We were feeling like we can make them feel appreciated for what they do for us,” said 11-year-old Sean Hartford, a goalie who read a thank you note to the crew at the Boylston Street station.
The musical tribute came as investigators continue to look into what caused the fire and why Lt. Edward J. Walsh Jr., 43, of West Roxbury and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, 33, of Hyde Park, died in Wednesday’s fire while trapped in the basement of four-story brownstone at 298 Beacon St.
Some 60 players ranging in age from 5 to 12 pulled up to the station on a bus for the surprise performance in their green, black and white jerseys adorned with shamrocks.
“It’s something that the firefighters certainly appreciated; most of them are dads themselves,” Boston Fire spokesman Steve MacDonald said. “There’s something pure in their well wishes.”
The idea came from hockey parents who began an email chain to discuss ways to show appreciation. Originally they talked about simply driving gift baskets in with a few players but soon secured complimentary rides on a coach bus and trolley for the players and parents to get to the station, as well as a police escort and lunch of about 140 free cheeseburgers at Sullivan’s on Castle Island.
“My role was to make the firefighters feel good about themselves,” said 8-year-old Jerry O’Neil, a right wing. “I felt proud of myself.”
League treasurer John Picariello credited the team for shifting from rambunctious to respectful and composed as soon as they stepped off the bus, “even the littlest kid.”
“When I walked in there I said, ‘Yeah, I’m here from South Boston Youth Hockey. We have a little gift for you guys,’ ” Picariello said. “They got on their radios and the speakers in the firehouse, and the next thing you know they’re all coming down the stairs. It was unbelievable. There were a couple of red and teary eyes.”
The token of appreciation, which also included stops at two Southie firehouses, came as department investigators continued working to identify the origin of the wind-fueled inferno. MacDonald said yesterday the investigation is “ongoing and active,” but officials released no new information on the probe that reportedly is looking at a furnace.
Herbert S. Lerman, executor of the estate of Michael J. Callahan, which owns the gutted rental property, said the estate is cooperating with investigators. Lerman said the basement boiler was walled off per fire codes and was serviced in the fall.