Skip to content

Get your quack on for Duckling Day – May 11

May 7, 2014
Two ducks enjoy a quiet day at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common. On Sunday, May 11 they will be joined by hundreds of people who will be on hand to celebrate Duckling Day.

Two ducks enjoy a quiet day at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common. On Sunday, May 11 they will be joined by hundreds of people who will be on hand to celebrate Duckling Day.  Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

Thousands of webbed feet will be flocking to the Parkman Bandstand on Sunday, May 11 for the 10:30 a.m. kick-off of Duckling Day. The non-profit Friends of the Public Garden, in partnership with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, will celebrate Mother’s Day with Boston-area families during this beloved tradition. The event celebrates the children’s classic book Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Every year, over 1,000 people meet up and parade through Boston’s most iconic parks, dressed like characters from the story. Led by the Harvard Marching Band, the parade will begin on the Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand and end in the Public Garden near the famous Make Way for Ducklings sculptures.

“Duckling Day has been a Boston tradition for more than 30 years and the Friends of the Public Garden has been its host for the last several,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden. “It is terrific to see families participating in activities on the Common, marching in the parade to the famous Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Public Garden, and coming together to celebrate our public spaces in such a delightful way.”

Prior to the parade there will be plenty of family entertainment including face painters, a magician, and puppet show. The Knucklebones crew will be leading children in playtime, and moms are invited to enjoy a free mini-massage. Mayor Walsh will greet families prior to the parade, and actors from the Wheelock Family Theatre will do a dramatic reading from Make Way for Ducklings. The registration fee is $35 per family in advance and $40 per family the day of the event. Each child who registers will receive a special goodie bag filled with Duckling Day toys.


Event highlights include:

10:30 a.m.                    Registration opens on Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand

11:45 a.m.                     Mayor Walsh and Executive Director Liz Vizza greet families

12:00 p.m.                    Parade begins

For more information or to register, go to or contact Karin Turer at (617)-599-8509.

Special thanks to the Motor Mart Garage for sponsoring this event. For parking information, please visit www.motormartgarage.commotor-mart-logo-300x231 

Incentive to Join Friends of the Public Garden

May 6, 2014


Join the Friends and help care for three of Boston's most beloved greenspaces.

Join the Friends and help care for three of Boston’s most beloved greenspaces.  Photo: Elizabeth Jordan 

The Friends of the Public Garden has launched its second annual Spring Membership Drive. Members play an important role in supporting the care and protection of some of Boston’s, and America’s, most treasured green spaces and all are invited to join. The Friends is offering a limited-time incentive now through May 22 when anyone who joins will be entered into a drawing to win lunch for two at the Four Seasons Hotel’s Bristol Lounge. Join by stopping by the office at 69 Beacon, calling 617-723-8144, visiting the Friends website at, or by attending a special “Meet the Friends” reception for prospective members at the office on May 22.

The Friends of the Public Garden is a non-profit citizen’s advocacy group formed in 1970 to preserve and enhance the Public Garden, America’s first public botanical garden. Shortly after the group organized, its mission was broadened to include the adjacent Boston Common, America’s first public park, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the central spine of the Back Bay neighborhood. The Friends has worked in collaboration with the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Boston since its beginnings. It is the first public-private partnership of its kind in the region. Today is has more than 2,500 members from over 100 Massachusetts communities and 30 other states.

Members receive the Friends newsletters and are invited to programs and events throughout the year, including the annual Members Reception. Leadership Friends, who join at the $1,000 or higher level, are also invited to an additional special annual reception and Public Garden sculpture tour.

For more information or to RSVP for the reception write to or call 617-723-8144.






Five things you didn’t know about “Make Way for Ducklings”

May 1, 2014

Friends of the Public Garden Duckling Day


You’ve posed your kids for photos at the famous sculptures.  You’ve followed Mrs. Mallard through countless bedtimes and story hours.  You’ve shown your Boston pride by gifting the book at baby showers near and far…but here’s a few little-known facts that make a local favorite even more fun:

5. The author, Robert McCloskey, kept a family of ducklings in the bathtub of his apartment as he was writing the book. His tolerant roommate at the time, Marc Simont, also went on to become a famous children’s book writer.  And in case you were thinking that might be fun? McCloskey noted, ”Ducks start quacking at the break of day, very loudly and emphatically.”

4. The duckling sculptures that the Friends of the Public Garden had made and placed in the Garden in 1987 exist in just one other place – Moscow!  Raisa Gorbachev fell in love with the ducklings on a visit to Boston, and former First Lady Barbara Bush presented them to Raisa during a 1991 summit meeting.

3. Make Way for Ducklings is the official children’s book of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts….and it’s best enjoyed with some chocolate chip cookies – the official cookie of Massachusetts!

2. The mystery of how to pronounce “Ouack” has never been solved: some prefer “Oh-ack” and others “Oooh-ack”!

1. Registration is now open for Duckling Day, a beloved Mother’s Day tradition for over 30 years!  It’s a morning of fun for the whole family organized by the Friends of the Public Garden.  Dress up the kids in their duckling best and enjoy entertainment and games on Boston Common – with a free mini-massage for Mom!  The famous Harvard Band will lead a parade to the Make Way for Ducklings statues.  The event comes courtesy of the non-profit Friends of the Public Garden.


Thank You to the Friends Marathon Team

April 24, 2014

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A huge thank you goes out to the Friends Marathon Team for representing our organization in the Boston Marathon, and to everyone who supported our runners every step of the way.  We are honored that you chose to represent us and support care of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall in this historic event.

Visit our pre-marathon blog post to learn more about our 2014 runners: Meet the Friends Marathon Team

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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers