Sarkis Ourfalian, 52, an active member of one of the town’s three Armenian churches, stepped out of his Armenian bakery next door.
“Yes! We do love Watertown!” he called, gazing at the chalk drawing.
A wave of relief and small-town pride swept through this quiet, highly diverse Boston suburb Saturday after police seized the latter of two suspected Boston Marathon bombers hiding in a docked boat behind a gray Victorian home.
The dragnet had made the town of 33,000 the focus of a vast military and police operation. It upended a community where graduate students from nearby Harvard rub elbows with working-class immigrants from Uganda, and no one ever worries about walking around alone at night.
Until this week.
“We’ve never seen anything like this. It was tough,” said Ourfalian. Like most residents, he and his family were forced to huddle indoors all day Friday as gun-toting federal agents searched nearby streets for the suspect. The family watched incredulously as TV images portrayed their town as an armed camp.
“We’re like, ‘Not in our town!’ We don’t expect anything to happen here, even though we’re close to Boston. Crime is almost nonexistent,” said Ourfalian.
Farther down Mount Auburn Street at the Deluxe Town Diner, Mason Fitch, 37, struggled to think of the last high-profile criminal event in Watertown. “In high school, in 1990, a drunk driver drove into a bank,” the longtime resident finally offered.
Despite its small size, Watertown has an outsize pedigree: Paul Revere once lived here, and the town was the seat of government for Massachusetts in 1775-76. But its 20th-century character was defined by the shoe, rubber and food factories that sprang up, drawing large numbers of immigrants from Armenia and Greece.
“Just a Regular Joe town,” said Nichols Faggas, 46, a dark-suited man with a linebacker’s build who was working Saturday for a funeral home at the Taxiarchae/Archangels Greek Orthodox Church.
In recent years, with real estate prices skyrocketing in neighboring Cambridge and Boston, an influx of newcomers arrived — students and young professionals drawn by relatively inexpensive rents, good schools and quiet streets. Immigrants from Africa and the Middle East discovered the town, too. The Armenian markets now share the downtown area with a Thai restaurant, a vegan eatery and an espresso shop.
With downtown Boston less than 10 miles away, many Watertown residents had watched the marathon on Monday. Residents were still coping with the shock of the bombings when they were stunned early Friday by a shootout in Watertown between police and the suspects, who were fleeing Cambridge.