Mon, Dec 17 2018
salemnews

Published: 11/24/2006

Day 2: Blast is on many minds at Thanksgiving Day game

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

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DANVERS - Bill McKenzie woke up and cried yesterday morning. Then he went to the annual Thanksgiving Day football game at Danvers High School.

A general contractor, McKenzie had been up until 1:30 a.m. the night before, working for the town, helping to close up and shore up what remained of a Danversport neighborhood partially destroyed by a still mysterious explosion at a chemical plant.

McKenzie's work was in advance of the coming nor'easter. He can't forget what he saw in the shattered neighborhood.

"It was eerie," he said from the sidelines. The wreckage was incredible: Doors were pushed in; walls sagged. A refrigerator door had been sucked from its hinges. In another home, glass shards were embedded in the wall just above a bed where residents had been sleeping.

The images recalled a scene from a disaster movie.

"Like Hollywood," McKenzie said.

And as he worked, McKenzie passed among the family photos on the walls, sometimes in homes blown off their foundations, homes that may never be lived in again. "You could almost hear the laughter of Thanksgiving."

Raw temperatures and freezing rain kept attendance down at the game. Most of the spectators came because, like McKenzie, they had children performing in the band or on the team, which lost to Gloucester. In the face of bad conditions and bad luck, spirits were high. At halftime, an announcement saluted efforts to help neighbors in Danversport and offered information on where to send donations.

It was not difficult to find people touched by the explosion. Even miles away, residents had been awakened by the early morning rumble.

"My poor dog went mad," Peggy Bellamy said.

"I thought a plane crashed," Caroline Pursley said.

Bellamy added, "You could see a big, black mushroom cloud."

"We know someone from our church who will more than likely lose their house," Bill Sabean said. He expects that the church will begin collecting soon. "Probably at the next service."

Theresa McGinness works at the Danvers Savings Bank, where money is being collected for the victims. It will be needed, she reflected. "That there was no loss of life is a miracle."

Athletic director John Sullivan said there wasn't more of an acknowledgment at the game because "we just didn't have time to prepare." But as he stood at the gate greeting the crowd - "Happy Thanksgiving" - he was quick to stress that despite the destruction and the injuries, Danvers has much to be thankful for.

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