Red tail lights rolled into Lexington like British Redcoats in Patriots' Day predawn.
It was well before 5 a.m., as a crowd thousands strong gathered 'round Lexington's Battle Green, anticipation hanging thick as the midnight blue sky gave way to a slightly lighter hue.
They knew what was going to happen. They knew minute men would fall before the muskets of the British. But they still wanted to see it, to re-live the Battle of Lexington, the history that formed this nation.
Some brought ladders. Some bought tri-corn hats and coffees. Still more held cameras above their heads, awaiting the arrival of Capt. John Parker, Paul Revere, minute men and Redcoats.
"Growing up around here, it's been like, 'Oh yea, yea, yea,'" said Julie Martinez, of Waltham. "But then when you come out and see it, it's just amazing."
The alarm rang out from the Old Belfry at 5:30 a.m. And men at the microphone set the scene, reading from a script that explained how Revere set out from Boston to warn militia captains that the Regulars were on the march and how Capt. Parker had his men ready to receive them.
As 6 o'clock came around, the Lexington Minute Men formed ranks on the Battle Green, as their namesakes did so many years ago. The Redcoats arrived a few minutes later. And, again, the first shots rang out from the sidelines, courtesy of a still-unidentified shooter who ignited a Revolution.
It was over as quickly as it began. The Regulars continued on their way as the townsfolk tended to their wounded. And the crowd left satisfied with the show and hungry for pancakes, which were served at breakfasts hosted by several local churches.
"Next year, we'll have to get here earlier," said Rhonda Brake, a Waltham resident who came out with Martinez and their fifth-grade children, who are studying American History. "And we'll bring ladders."
An unexpected show broke out after the smoke cleared. Amanda Palmer, a Boston-based musician and writer, treated unsuspecting attendees and Twitter-followers to a "ninja gig" near the monument to the fallen, a spot she scouted out, according to her tweets from this morning.