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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

Make Way for Duckling Day in May

March 24, 2014

 Duckling Day Parade photo 2

If you hear quacking on Mother’s Day in the vicinity of the Boston Common and Public Garden, it is likely to be coming from a little feathered friend of the human persuasion.  The Friends of the Public Garden will celebrate Mother’s Day with Boston-area families during its annual Duckling Day event on Sunday, May 11th. This celebration, based on the classic children’s book Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, has been a Boston tradition for more than 20 years. Attendees are encouraged to dress like characters from the story, and they don’t disappoint!  Children of all ages are seen fashioning whimsical attire from feathered boas to hand-made costumes, many designed especially for this occasion. The fun-filled family event line-up includes a puppet show, craft activities, magic show, and a special reading of the book Make Way for Ducklings by actors from the Wheelock Family Theater.

Every year, children take part in the day’s parade through Boston’s most picturesque parks, dressed like characters from the story. Led by the Harvard University Marching Band, the parade that follows activities on the Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand will end in the Public Garden near the famous Make Way for Ducklings sculptures.

What you need to know:

·      Register at  (Savings are offered for online pre-registration.)

·      On-site registration and event begins at 10:30 a.m. on Boston Common.

Do you have a second generation duckling?  We are seeking families who went to Duckling Day as a child and are now bringing (or planning to bring) their own children this May.  Please e-mail Karin at

Stay tuned to Friends of the Public Garden on Facebook, Twitter @FOPG, and our blog for additional information and updates.

A special place to pause in the Public Garden

March 21, 2014
Photo courtesy of Julia Callwood

Photo courtesy of Julia Callwood

Barbara Dunay’s name has been on the same mailbox in the same apartment building in her Beacon Hill neighborhood since she moved there in the late 1960s.  It is the place she calls home.  Recently, she admitted quite candidly that for several years she had been eyeing another location nearby.  Barbara imagined what it might be like to have her name displayed on a plaque there, and as she frequently read names of others in the vicinity, she wondered how they made it happen.  It was a bench!  “I always thought the cost would be prohibitive, but it was actually very reasonable,” said Barbara. The cost may have been especially reasonable considering that this particular bench was made somewhat famous in the movie Good Will Hunting.

In 2013, Barbara bumped into a neighbor in her building and the conversation turned to the benches in the Public Garden that she couldn’t get off her mind – the views of the lagoon were fantastic.  Lucky for her, that neighbor was Steve TenBarge, who last spring began working as a Staff Accountant for the Friends of the Public Garden; he had the answers she was looking for.  He told her of the Tree and Bench Sponsorship Program which offers the public the opportunity to take part in the stewardship of the parks the Friends supports – the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Barbara with Kobe

Barbara with Kobe

Several months later, Barbara’s new plaque was placed in front of the bench she selected in the PublicGarden, where her name will be displayed for the next 15 years.  The inscription: A place for Barbara and her pups to pause,” in memory of the dogs who often accompanied her through the years on strolls through the Garden. Her current dog Kobe, a rescue from the Animal Rescue League of Boston, seems to be happy with her choice.


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