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The Evolution of Winter Sports on the Boston Common

February 25, 2013

Help BostonPublic GardenWith all of the snow we’ve been getting, some have been crying for help! But others have taken this opportunity to enjoy some of their favorite winter sports on the Boston Common, especially children who just enjoyed a full week away from school. A recent article in the Boston Globe compared winter activities then and now and found that the children of today enjoy many of the same activities as children from 80 years ago. The equipment may be different, but the spirit is the same. We’d like to take a moment to review all of our favorite winter sports. Speaking of winter sports, don’t forget to grab your tickets to join Young Friends of the Public Garden at the Frog Pond tonight for an evening of skating and fun all in support of your favorite Boston parks! Tickets available here.

Winter Sports Review

Snow shoeing is one of Boston’s oldest winter sports, dating back to the 18th and 19th century when hunters and lumberjacks would don this unusual footwear. Before them Native American’s had designed perhaps some of the most efficient snow shoes. Eventually snow showing became a leisure activity and snow shoes were worn for sport. The young ladies pictured below seem to be having a good time, but they probably won’t get very far like that!

Photo credit: Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

Photo credit: Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

Other winter sports tend to be a little more faced paced. Skating requires a smooth surface for sliding across while sledding, skiing and snowboarding tend to be downhill (the exception being cross country skiing, which is much more like snow shoeing).

Ice skating then...

Ice skating then…

...and now

…and now







Anytime there’s snow you’re sure to find children sledding in the Boston Common. That hasn’t changed much in the last 80 or so years.

sledding boston common

Sledding then…

...and now

…and now








Skiing became popularized in the Boston area in the early 1920′s with the rise of the Arlberg Technique. Rumor has it that one ski enthusiast, Otto Schniebs, who later became a legendary ski instructor, first gained notoriety when he skied across the Boston Common, causing a traffic jam that required law enforcement to respond. These ladies don’t seem like they plan to cause much of stir in their winter gear.


We don’t see much skiing in the Boston Common these days, but we sure do see plenty of snowboarding. When snow falls snowboarders flock to the Common to build jumps and try to catch some air. We don’t recommend trying these stunts yourself!

Snow Boarding Boston Common 2

If none of these winter sports are for you, there’s always a good old fashioned snow ball fight. That’s something that hasn’t changed much over time. 

snow balls Snow Ball Fight Boston Common

Finding [Beauty in] Nemo

February 18, 2013

For the past week we’ve been hearing a lot about winter storm Nemo. Complaints about shoveling, excitement about sledding and even some apologies from the city for slow-moving clean up efforts. It seems we’re on Nemo overload. So instead of talking more about the storm, we thought we would share some of our favorite photos from the post-Nemo Public Garden, Boston Common and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Thanks to everybody who posted. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Getty Images

Photo credit: Getty Images

Public Garden Photo Credit @YvetteClaire

Photo credit: @YvetteClaire

Boston Common Photo credit Jacksviews

Photo credit: Jacks Views tumblr

Public Garden Photo Credit @ItalianinBoston

Photo credit: @ItalianinBoston

Photo credit: @OnlyinBoston

Photo credit: @OnlyinBoston

Photo credit: Charles Krupa

Photo credit: Charles Krupa

Love is in the Air

February 11, 2013

Valentine’s Day is this week! It’s common knowledge that the Boston Public Garden is one of the most romantic places in the city. Even the Ducklings are ready to share the love! Whether your have a date or you’re planning an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration with Friends, the Public Garden offers a picturesque pre or post-dinner walk. If you’re willing to brave a little chill, it’s the perfect location for a picnic. Not to mention being ranked one of the best places to sneak a kiss!  There’s a reason so many of Boston’s brides select this location for their wedding photos. Find out what all the hype is about.

Be sure to tweet your favorite Public Garden photos to @FOPG!

Overcoming the Challenges of Marathon Training

February 4, 2013

The Boston Marathon is just 11 weeks away! Team Friends is pumped and ready to tackle the challenges that come with running a race of this distance. In fact, many of our team members have had to overcome injuries or illnesses and navigate how time off would effect their training schedules. We’re happy to say that everyone is fully recovered and ready to train hard as we approach the home stretch of marathon preparations.

marathon cartoon 3

Team member, Allison Byrne suffered a foot injury that prevented her from running for 3 weeks. Allison used her time productively and hit the pool when she could not strap on those running shoes. She continues her training now with a better understanding of her body and feels confident she will be prepared to face Marathon Monday. Her goal is to build back up her mileage slowly to avoid risking another injury so close to race day.

Lori Shoemaker is a marathon pro. She’s been running since the age of 9 and has completed quite a few marathons over years. So she was not concerned when the “super flu” ran through her family, she knew training could wait until she was back in good health. Instead of stressing about how her performance would be affected by a break, she took a leisurely recovery and is back in the grind now. Lori feels confident that she will be ready by race day.
Brian Ladley was also out of commission for a few weeks with, what he calls, his “annual Christmas cold”. Brian is also no novice to marathon training. He knew he could afford to take a few weeks off in the early stages of his training and that he would benefit from allowing himself a full recovery before pushing his body too hard.

We’re happy that all the members of Team Friends are fully recovered and back on the road. This weekend was the longest run of the Fitcorp training program! We’ll be checking in with our runners soon to see how they felt after the run and any insight they’d like to share about training for a marathon!

Don’t forget to visit the Team Friends Fundraising Page!

Young Friends on Ice

January 28, 2013

The Young Friends of the Public Garden will be hosting a spectacular winter event! On Monday, February 25, join Young Friends for a night a skating on the Boston Common Frog Pond.  Don’t worry if you don’t have skates, your ticket for admission includes skate rental.

young friends on ice

Event Information

Date: Monday, February 25

Time: 7:30-9:00 p.m.

Price: $35.00

Buy tickets here

Visit the Facebook event page

Skating in the Schools returns for a second season

January 21, 2013

Last year the Skating Club of Boston piloted their Skating in the Schools program at the Boston Common Frog Pond. This wonderful after school activity gives children a positive outlet for energy while teaching a valuable skill. In the winter, the number of athletic opportunities available to school age children is significantly diminished, the skating club is offering a great opportunity by exposing children to a wonderful winter sport. When the program began last year only one school was invited to participate. In it’s second year the program has expanded to include two school groups.skating in the schools 2

Most of the students are new again this year, there are two or three repeat students from Washington Irving, but for the most part it is an entirely different group,” says Cheri Rigby, Director of Programs at the Skating Club of Boston.

She hopes the program will grow to be more comprehensive, a program in which students enroll early and participate throughout their schooling, “But we’re not there yet.” It’s tough to say at this early stage whether students who return are improving in their abilities, but they do receive free season passes to use the Frog Pond whenever they’d like to skate for free. Skating is an expensive sport, the Skating Club provides the free passes to provide students who enjoy the activity with an affordable (free) opportunity to do so. Whenever they’d like. “We realize that kids 13 and under already have free admission at the Frog Pond,” Cheri points out, “our intention was that this free pass allows a parent or guardian to come in for free–thus the added assurance that they will get back to practice and enjoy skating in their free time.”

The program has more than doubled in size since last year and has plenty of support to continue to grow. If program success was measured solely in smiles, the Skating Club would have a very positive report. “The smiles are the best testimony [to success] at this point,” Cheri reports, ” [and] we have tremendous support from educators. We know we have tapped into something very good and really look forward to the expansion of the program“.

skating in the schools 1

I know from firsthand experience (I was a skater) the incredible feeling of freedom and personal strength you have when you are on the ice…When these kids are on the ice, they are 100% focused on the task at hand. They can only think about the present moment. That in itself is very therapeutic.  In addition to the effort and concentration skating requires, it is also extrememey humbling.  I enjoy watching the transformation of the kids when they step on the ice.  It puts them in a place of vulnerability that opens them up to asking for help and for allowing someone to help them…Skating [is] a wonderful vehicle for children to learn life lessons.”  – Cheri Rigby

Cheri’s plan for the future is simple and focuses on the following principles: quality programming with engaged students and supportive educators, administrators and sponsors and helping kids to develop the confidence and life skills they need in order to thrive and grow.

Community Members Comment on Dog Run in Boston Common

January 14, 2013

dogsThe application for a rotating off leash area in the Boston Common is complete and is pending approval by the city. Dog owners and other community members who are advocating for the space comment on the importance of this development for the city of Boston and respond to some public concerns.

Allison Byrne says,

“There is no question the off-leash area will be a big boon for dog owners.   The parks are for the people to use and enjoy.  And it turns out that for city dwellers with dogs, a growing population, the way they want to enjoy the park is with their dog.  Dogs and people are social and thrive in a group setting.  Having a designated area where dog owners can congregate and allow their dogs to safely run around together is the goal.  Dogs need to run on a daily basis to be emotionally and physically healthy, and the interactions they have with other dogs are helpful for socialization, similar to how children benefit from play groups.  The same can be said of the dog owners!”

She believes the city will benefit from the program because it creates goodwill and a enhances a growing sense of community. The Boston Common is our common back yard and all city-dwellers should be able to use it to mutual benefit.

This of course leads to the question of proper care. There is concern that overuse of these areas will be detrimental to the grounds. That is why the space will be rotating. Rather than one designated off-leash area the plan is for dog owners to rotate use of separate spaces to allow the areas to be reseeded and restored between uses. These spaces will be well marked with signs, dog waste bag dispensers and trash bins. The dog owners have agreed to a sort of self governance which will include outreach and education to encourage all dog owners to obey the rules, and enables them to become active stewards of the park. Dog owners are also financially responsible for restoring the off-leash areas on a regular basis.  The money for this upkeep will come both from private financial contributions and through public fundraising efforts.  

If you have questions about the off-leash area please email


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