Forty friends and neighbors gathered in North Falmouth to cheer on Olympic gymnast and seasonal Falmouth resident Alexandra Raisman in a moment of Olympic glory on Sunday night.
The crowd dressed in “Go Aly” T-shirts and caps, held homemade signs and cheered as their neighbor finished second overall in the women’s qualification round, putting her in contention for the individual all-around gold medal on Thursday. The moment was even more dramatic as Aly knocked her teammate, Jordyn Wieber, out of the individual all-around finals.
Aly, 18, is the captain of the United States women’s Olympic gymnastics team. She lives in Needham year-round with her parents, Richard S. and Lynn H. Raisman, who bought their North Falmouth home in 2009.
The Raisman family is in London watching Aly compete, but there is still plenty of enthusiasm locally, said next-door neighbor Patricia Cloherty, who hosted the party.
“We’ve kind of caught what we’re calling the Aly fever,” said Ms. Cloherty. She ordered shirts, hats, and a cake with the Olympic rings from White’s Bakery in Mashpee to celebrate the event. “Everybody thinks it’s so cool that our neighbor is in the Olympics,” Ms. Cloherty said.
The party was documented by a news crew from Channel 7 NBC WHDH in Boston, which filmed at the house all day and broadcast live from the location at 6 PM and midnight. “It was fun and exciting to have them here,” Ms. Cloherty said. The news truck outside in the driveway drew a lot of attention, she said, but did not intimidate the partygoers.
We’ve kind of caught what we’re calling the Aly fever.
The crowd watched the event on television, and did not spoil the results by going online before the event was broadcast. “The kids had no idea that it was even on in London earlier,” Ms. Cloherty said.
Part of the fun is watching Mr. and Ms. Raisman on television watching their daughter compete, Ms. Cloherty said. “We watch them on television grinding their teeth and squirming in their seats,” she said. A video of Aly’s parents reacting to their daughter’s routine was replayed on the national NBC broadcast including Mr. Raisman’s enthusiastic comments, “Stick it! Stick it!”
In the past few years Aly’s gymnastics commitments have resulted in shorter visits to Falmouth, Ms. Cloherty said. Typically Mr. Raisman arrives on Friday with Aly’s siblings Brett, 16, Chloe, 12, and Maddie, 10. Aly and her mother come down on Saturday after a workout and then leave on Sunday. “She’s an amazing kid to show this much dedication,” Ms. Cloherty said. “I think she’s probably quite tired by the time she gets down here.”
Leading up to the Olympics, Ms. Cloherty hosted several parties for Aly, including one for the Olympic qualifiers.
Mr. and Ms. Raisman also watched a three-part documentary about their daughter at the Cloherty home. “They are amazing. They are so low-key,” Ms. Cloherty said. “Their cellphones were just smoking with texts.”
After Aly qualified for the Olympic team, the Cloherty family ordered a large sign and hung it outside the Raismans’ house. The Cloherty family is still recovering from the party Sunday night and has not decided about whether to host another party.
Aly is 5 foot 2 inches tall and began gymnastics at 18 months old in a Mommy & Me class, according to the Team USA website. Her favorite event is the floor exercise, which she won the bronze medal in at the 2011 World Championships.
In addition to her accomplishments in the Olympics, Aly was also on the cover of Sports Illustrated with her women’s gymnastics teammates last week.