Fenway appearance emotional experience for area singer
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | April 22,2013
Brotherhood, camaraderie, and love.
These were some of the emotions experienced by Olivia Gawet of West Rutland, who sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston before the Red Sox hosted the Kansas City Royals.
It was Vermont Day at Fenway — which holds one day each season to honor each of the six New England states — and there were a host of Vermonters, big and small, young and old, on hand to represent the Green Mountain State.
Gawet, who started singing as a soloist at the age of 10 as a pupil at Christ the King School in Rutland, said she was not terribly nervous Sunday, until the moment came to sing.
“I showed up at Gate E and they led me through the tunnels below Fenway,” said Gawet, when reached by phone during the third inning. “I met some of the other people who were there for Vermont Day.”
Among those Vermonters were Cayley North, of Ira, and Liam Mulholland, of Westminster, who were honorary bat girl and bat boy for the game, which the Royals took with a 4-2 win.
Also on hand was Henry Burke, 13, of Cabot, who sang “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch.
Around 1 p.m., Gawet took to the field and then, she said, just waited.
“Just watching everyone come in and watching the stadium fill up was just amazing,” Gawet said.
It was also about this time she, understandably, began to grow a bit nervous, but the nerves washed away as she began to sing at 1:30 p.m.
“It was a little difficult because I’m singing and I’m hearing my voice come back to me like three seconds later,” said Gawet. “When we got to the ‘land of the free,’ the crowd was so loud I couldn’t hear anything but I kept on singing.”
Despite technical troubles that would derail a less-talented singer, Gawet didn’t miss a note or hit a wrong one.
“I stopped singing and all of the emotion just flowed out of me and I started crying,” she said.
While Gawet received word April 1 she would sing before her largest crowd ever, the event took on even more significance as it came on the heels of the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt, which put much of the Boston area on lockdown and gripped the world.
During the game, a broadcaster with the New England Sports Network interviewed Ryan Polly of Williston. Polly ran in the Boston Marathon and was less than a mile from the finish line when the bombs detonated. Like many people at the scene, Polly’s cellphone was not working.
“It was so challenging emotionally to not be able to reach my family or anyone back in Vermont,” Polly said.
In response, Polly organized a run in Burlington on Saturday, which drew more than 650 runners and raised more than $10,000 for people injured during the Boston Marathon.
That sense of coming together to help was everywhere, Gawet said.
“There’s this brotherhood and camaraderie that’s almost palpable and it feels like everyone is loving each other just a little bit more,” she said.