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Preservation Month Event Kick-Off Event Features Swan Boats History

April 18, 2014


Photo: David Rosen

Photo: David Rosen

Join Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Landmarks Commission for a keynote talk and reception to kick off the citywide celebration of Preservation Month 2014. In the keynote, “Mated for Life: Boston and the Swan Boats,” Lyn Paget will share the story of how her great-grandparents first introduced the Swan Boats to the Public Garden in 1877. These unique vessels have become a symbol of Boston and are celebrated worldwide. Bostonians and visitors alike delight in riding through the Public Garden, America’s first public botanical garden, while taking  part in a time-honored tradition.  Lyn will explain why the image of the swan was chosen for these boats and their history, share stories of their international fame, and talk about how her family’s business has thrived through the years.

The Friends of the Public Garden is pleased to be a co-sponsor of this event, which is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to:

Presented by: Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC)
Co-sponsored by: City of Boston Department of Parks & Recreation, Friends of the Public Garden, Back Bay Association, the Taj Boston, and the Swan Boats of Boston

The BLC partners with organizations across the city to offer a wide array of events focusing on Boston’s unique architectural and historic landscape heritage. The BLC’s Preservation Month Calendar has more than 50 pages of activities and is available online at and in print version from the Boston Landmarks Commission.

Meet the Friends Boston Marathon Team

April 17, 2014
Photo: FayFoto and

Photo: FayFoto and

For the second consecutive year, the Friends of the Public Garden has a Boston Marathon team.  Five people will be running in this historic foot race from Hopkinton to Boston, specifically to support the care of the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.  Meet our marathoners and learn about what inspired them to run this race for our historic green spaces.

Brian Ladley

Brian says, “When I discovered Friends of the Public Garden was seeking runners, I was ecstatic.  I knew this would be a perfect fit for me.  I understand the effort and resources it requires to keep these special places in excellent condition, available to the public and protected from commercial encroachment.” Brian was a member of the 2013 Friends of the Public Garden Marathon Team and was unable to complete the race due to the bombing incident that day.

Kate Norris Linzmeyer

Kate has loved the Common and the Mall ever since she arrived in Boston in 2004 as a freshman at Boston University. She says, “After moving back to Boston in 2010 I would walk through the Common before and after every job interview downtown.  A perfect place to reflect on the conversations had and evaluate potential opportunities, I found myself appreciating it in new ways.”

Robert Rogers

It has been a year of firsts for Rob.  He moved to Boston to begin a residency program at Massachusetts General Hospital, and is preparing for his inaugural Boston marathon.  As a Beacon Hill resident and avid runner, Rob appreciates having these historic parks in his new backyard and says that he runs through “the beautifully maintained Common and Public Garden” several times a week.

Lori Shoemaker

Lori was a member of the 2013 Friends Marathon Team and was prevented from completing the race due to the day’s events. She has returned as a member of the 2014 Friends team to support our wonderful green spaces and finish the race. She says, “Green spaces are crucial to any city and Boston’s Common, Public Garden and the Commonwealth Ave Mall are truly extraordinary.  When I was living in Boston, these green spaces were very much a part of my life and I always found ways to make sure they were on my route to where ever I was headed!” 

Kristina Vetter

As a child, Kristina used these parks frequently as her neighborhood park and recalls her mother taking her on daily walks through the Public Garden.  Although she resides in California, her family’s commitment to these green spaces remains strong today.  Her father, Frank Mead is a long-time supporter of the Friends and a current board member.

The Friends would like to express their grateful appreciation to the John Hancock Non-Profit Marathon Program for their generous support.

Public Garden Lagoon is Ready for the Swans

April 16, 2014
Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

The water has returned to the Public Garden lagoon and the swans will soon follow. On Saturday, April 19th, humans boat operators will help the historic Swan Boats paddle passengers on scenic tours of the lagoon and garden. Mayor Martin J. Walsh will host the first Swan Boat ride of the season. “I’m proud to be joining the Paget family and Bostonians of all ages to celebrate 138 years of the Boston Swan Boats,” said Mayor Walsh. “As millions of residents and visitors already know, springtime is a great time to enjoy a ride around the Public Garden lagoon surrounded by the park’s greenery and flowers coming into bloom for the season.”

Students from Boston Public Schools including the Ellis Mendell Elementary School in Roxbury and the Chittick Elementary School in Mattapan will join Mayor Walsh on the first ride of the year.

On Wednesday, April 30, Romeo and Juliet will headline the Return of the Swans event. When they enter the lagoon, with much fanfare, for their inaugural paddle of the season, they are sure to appreciate the recent restoration project completed in their spring/summer home. The Boston Parks and Recreation Department restored the granite edge of the lagoon with a project that took about five weeks to complete and was done at a price tag of $264,000. According to Ryan Woods, Director of External Relations for the Parks Department, “This restoration work will help the Parks Department control a consistent water level and make the lagoon more sustainable.”

The Friends is looking forward to these two exciting rites of spring that showcase how people enjoy and connect with our treasured greenspaces. We would love to hear about ways you connect with our parks – the Common, Garden, and Mall. Please leave a comment or email us at

Surveying Vegetation on the Public Garden Lagoon Island

April 15, 2014


(L-R) Bobby Moore and Liz Vizza inspect the trees

(L-R) Bobby Moore and Elizabeth Vizza inspecting trees on the island in the Public Garden lagoon (Photo: Beth Jordan)

With just days before the water was scheduled to fill the lagoon in the Public Garden, Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza and Public Garden Committee Chair Bobby Moore made a muddy trek to the lagoon island to survey the vegetation. In particular, they wanted to find out how a special “Moon Glow” Magnolia virginiana, planted last year, fared through the harsh winter months. The tree was a gift of the Garden Club of the Back Bay and was the first of 50 planted in the neighborhood to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary, and the original planting of magnolias along Commonwealth Avenue.

Vizza and Moore were pleased to see that the tree, at the northern edge of its range, survived the winter despite some minor vandalism. The Friends consulting arborist assessed the tree for winter damage and did some corrective pruning. The Friends will continue to monitor the tree throughout the growing season. It is one of 1,700 trees cared for by the Friends in the Public Garden, Boston Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. To learn more about the Friends tree care program, visit

Liz Vizza (front) and Bobby Moore access the Public Garden island just days before it is filled for the season

Elizabeth Vizza (front) and Bobby Moore access the Public Garden island just days before the lagoon is filled for the season  (Photo: Beth Jordan)


Supporting Park Rangers who Serve the Parks

April 9, 2014




Park rangers have long played the role of guardians of our parks and we have been at risk of losing them numerous times since they were introduced in 1982. They serve as a visible presence of authority and the City’s eyes and ears in the parks that the Friends cares for in collaboration with the Boston Parks Department – the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. When we were at risk of losing them in as far back as 1984, due to lack of funds, the Friends helped to establish annual support for the Park Rangers program and has been contributing to it ever since.

Another group has been working to support the horses that transport the Rangers. The Friends of the Boston Rangers Mounted Unit supports the mounted rangers in the following Boston Parks: Public Garden, Boston Common, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Back Bay Fens, the Riverway, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park.

The Friends of the Boston Rangers Mounted Unit is holding their second annual Derby Dash on April 10, 2014 at the Lenox Hotel. Guests are encouraged to dress in their Derby best to support the rangers, and to be prepared for a spirited hat contest! For information on tickets, please visit,

Please Join Us for the Friends 44th Annual Meeting

April 4, 2014


Friends of the Public Garden Annual Meeting 2014

The 44th Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Public Garden will take place on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 with a reception to follow. Members of the Friends leadership will provide updates on the organization and discuss its plans for the future, including a newly developed five-year strategic plan.

Bill Walczak

Bill Walczak

The featured speaker for this event is long-time parks advocate Bill Walczak who will present on “Opportunities for Parks in Boston’s New Political Environment.” Walczak was a candidate for Mayor of Boston in 2013, is Vice President of External Relations at Shawmut Design and Construction, and a member of the Friends Council. He has been a park advocate since the 1970s, when he helped create the Friends of Peabody Square Park in Dorchester, helped to restore the historic Uphams Corner Burial Ground, and became the caretaker of the James Blake House in Dorchester, which included being the guardian of Richardson Park, the park in which the Blake House resides. He was a founder of the Boston GreenSpace Alliance, and in the mid-1980s started the Friends of Savin Hill Park. He served on the Parks Commission for the City of Boston in the 1980s and 90s.

The meeting is open to the public. RSVP by April 22 by calling 617-723-8144 or emailing

A successful skating night with Friends

March 24, 2014

Freezing temperatures were offset by warm smiles on February 26th at Boston Common Frog Pond where the Young Friends hosted their second annual private skating night. Roughly 50 brave souls ventured out to skate in support of the Friends of the Public Garden and their mission to protect and enhance the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Many attendees live nearby and consider these historic green spaces to be an extension of their backyard in the urban landscape.


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“It is amazing to see how many people truly care about our parks and are enthusiastically willing to support them,” said Kate Gundry, chair of the Young Friends group. “We are very fortunate to have an active and engaged community that wants to be involved – whether it is attending an event or helping to organize one, we have a great group of members who are always willing to pitch in.”

One highlight of the evening is a good example of how people lend their talents to add value to Young Friends’ events. To the delight of the crowd, two Boston-bred skaters choreographed a special performance for the occasion. Chynna Pope and Elin Schran have strong ties to the Frog Pond on Boston Common, which served as their neighborhood skating rink in their youth. From her early days skating in Boston’s oldest park, Pope went on to become an international competitive and professional figure skater.  Shran was a professional skater for the Ice Capades and continues to choreograph, direct, produce and star in local shows. Both women are still involved with skating programs on the Frog Pond today.

Pope and Schran also brought a special surprise guest who kindly performed for the group. Eric Kaplan gave a dynamic solo performance. The national level competitor in freestyle and pairs lives in Rhode Island when he is not touring across the globe headlining in shows.

In addition to performing, the professionals offered basic tips and advice on mastering techniques to skaters of all levels.

The Young Friends has come together to raise goodwill and funds to assist with the work of preserving and enhancing Boston’s first public parks – the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Through festive, community-oriented events, the Young Friends engages with their neighbors, getting one another involved for the betterment of the parks. If you are interested in becoming involved with this group, please call 617-723-8144 or email


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