BOSTON -- To say the Boston Red Sox home opener was a special day for the fans at Fenway Park and all of New England would be an understatement of epic proportions.
For Lenox native Katie Miller, it was even more special.
"This is my first one," she said. "I've probably been to over 100 games, but never an Opening Day."
Miller, who now lives in Derry, N.H., accompanied her father Joe, of Lenox, to Fenway on Friday for the home opener.
The Red Sox returned home sporting a 2-1 record and entered Fenway to the cheers of the adoring throng. The players from last year's team all received their World Series championship rings. Even players like Ryan Dempster and Quintin Berry, who are no longer with the Red Sox, came onto the Fenway grass to thunderous ovations.
"I think it's special because I was at the last playoff game last year. When they won, I was here," she said. "It kind of brings it all full circle.
"And after such an emotional year in Boston last year, and I was living here, it's kind of extra special to have the Red Sox kind of bring the city together."
The negative on the day for the Millers and the rest of the 36,728 at Fenway was that the Milwaukee Brewers won the game 6-2 on Friday.
The Red Sox had a pregame ceremony full of pomp, circumstance and honest emotion.
Survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing and members of their families helped deliver the World Series rings that were later given out to the Red Sox players, coaches, manager John Farrell and front office staffers.
The two Boston firefighters who lost their lives in a fire last month were remembered and firefighters from the Engine 33, Ladder 15 company on Boylston Street helped raise the World Series championship banner. The engine company is the one that is in Fenway Park's neighborhood.
"Opening day on the road or at home, they're special in their own right. This one will, obviously, have a lot of significance to it," Farrell said during his daily pregame meeting with media members. "Given how special 2013 was, I'm sure there will be a flashback or two in the minds of everyone, particularly on what might stand out most clear and readily for each and every guy.
"This is a day that we should all enjoy."
It was a day that, even from the earliest moments, one could tell that the Fenway Faithful were in a far better mood coming into the park than they were 12 months ago.
That was after the failed Bobby Valentine experiment that ended with a 69-93 record in a season that saw the Red Sox finish 26 games behind the American East Division champion New York Yankees.
Lamar Phillips of Pittsfield, a senior at Curry College in Milton, works at Fenway Park and on Opening Day was manning an elevator that transports the fans and media to their respective locations. Even he noticed there was more spring in the step of those with tickets.
"Definitely more optimistic than it was last year," said Phillips. "In baseball, anything can happen. I found that out last year."
Joe Miller has attended at least a dozen openers, but was not here 12 months ago. He even had a chance to run down an old General Electric colleague of his, Thomas Cosgrove, who worked in Pittsfield some 30 years ago.
"It's amazing to be here this year because it's one of those years where Boston has had so much going on, so many issues. It came through the bombing last year and this year with the firefighter tragedy, it brings the whole community together," he said. "It brings people in Massachusetts, and actually in New England, together"
Don Graves, of Adams, is a regular at Fenway openers. Attending with his brother Rich, Graves said that he is cautiously optimistic for the season.
"I love coming down here. We come from a family of Red Sox fans that go way, way back," said Graves. "I'd come here before I'd come anywhere else."