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Mystery shoveler kept Boston Marathon finish line clean in winter storm

Posted at 9:19 PM, Jan 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-28 21:19:26-05

(CNN) — Three photos, two men, one mystery: Who kept Boston’s historic landmark free of snow during one of the city’s worst storms?

More than two feet of snow covered the streets and sidewalks, shutting down Boston’s schools, businesses and roadways this week. Although streets were plowed, snowfall obscured the iconic Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street.

One of the first photos to surface shows a man in dark clothing approaching the street with a shovel.

Philip Hillman, 44, took the photo and told CNN he was working out of a hotel room in downtown Boston on Tuesday afternoon because he didn’t want to commute during the snowstorm, and happened to notice something strange outside his window.

Hillman said seeing someone taking the time to clear off the finish line was something that made him proud to be a Bostonian. “In my heart of hearts, I thought: Boston Strong I love this city, and love that someone would do that.”

After the mystery man was identified as Chris Laudani, a Boston bartender, people began calling him an American hero.

“It’s very special to me and to the city, and I didn’t think it deserved to be covered under all that snow,” Laudani told CNN affiliate WCVB.

This good deed shows how brightly the #BostonStrong spirit still shines, Hillman said, almost two years after the Boston Marathon attack.

The second photo shows a man with his back to the camera, working to clear a section of the mostly covered finish line. The photographer, Kelsey Karkos, posted on Instagram that she was searching for the finish line when a man shoveling the sidewalk offered to clear the section of street.

“I do not know the man shoveling,” she wrote. “He saw me looking for the finish line while he was shoveling the sidewalk. He knew exactly what I was looking for and came over to help me! Such a great person with some boston spirit during the blizzard! I wish I knew his name!”

A third photo shows a person posing at a cleared off finish line with the caption, “Shoveled off the finish line.” Instagram user @johnbackbay later tweeted to a reporter that he did not have any part in clearing the finish line.

A Twitter campaign #WhoShoveledTheFinishLine quickly caught on. A Boston Police Department tweet and Facebook post asking for information about the mystery shoveler quickly went viral.

Boston Officer Rachel McGuire told CNN that she was calling Laudani a “chivalrous shoveler,” and randomly came across the photo of him shoveling while browsing Twitter.

CNN’s Justin Lear, Stephanie Gallman and Patrick Cornell contributed to this report