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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.

Boston’s Public Garden recognized by Yankee Magazine

March 19, 2014


The Public Garden has been recognized as a 2014 “Editors’ Choice 2014 Home & Garden Award” winner in Yankee Magazine’s March/April issue.  This exclusive designation recognizes Yankee’ editors’ favorite New England home & garden shops, public gardens, garden ornaments & furniture, garden accessories, and restaurant gardens.

“This special recognition of the Public Garden is a testament to the good work of the Parks and Recreation Department’s staff and to the many people who support the work of the Friends of the Public Garden,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden, a parks advocacy group formed more than 40 years ago to protect and enhance the Public Garden, Boston Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.  “We have been fortunate to play a significant stewardship role in collaboration with the Parks and Recreation Department to maintain this historic green space and facilitate wonderful enhancements.”

Boston’s Public Garden is the first public botanical garden in America, established in 1837.  Its form, plantings, and statuary evoke its Victorian heritage. Today, the rich green landscape includes more than 500 trees, representing dozens of species and more than 100 varieties. The Garden is also home to significant sculptures, arguably two of the most notable being George Washington on horseback dating back to 1869, and the ducklings sculpture which celebrates Nancy Schön’s bestselling book Make Way for Ducklings.  The much-visited statue of mother duck and her ducklings represents the part of the story in which they journey to an island in the Garden’s lagoon. The Public Garden is also well known for another set of Boston icons that reside there in warmer months, the Swan Boats, which take passengers for rides on the lagoon.

Boston Marathoners race to support Friends of the Public Garden

March 14, 2014


Needless to say, 2013 was a tough year for the Boston Marathon. However, in true #bostonstrong fashion, we are looking forward to making the 2014 Marathon the best one yet! We are thrilled to be represented in the John Hancock Non-Profit Marathon Program by Team Friends of the Public Garden. Spurred on by the tragic events of last year, our team is determined to finish all 26.2 miles of the marathon while also raising money for care of the historic parks we support – the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Team Friends of the Public Garden members are:  Brian Ladley, Kate Norris, Robert Rogers, Lori Shoemaker, and Kristina Vetter. This fabulous group of five will be running for their love of the race, their love of the city of Boston, and the strong connections they share with our parks. Whether they grew up in Boston or have just moved here, they are eager to lace up their running shoes to participate in what is expected to be one of the most historic marathons of all time.

The Boston Marathon takes place on April 21st, Patriot’s Day. Leading up to the main event, we will be highlighting each individual team member of Team Friends of the PublicGarden. Be sure to check back to learn more about our team members and support their Boston Marathon run and the parks! Contributions of any size are most welcome and will help the Friends continue to care for our treasured green spaces.

Sculptures to celebrate in honor of Women’s History Month

March 13, 2014

We asked Sarah Hutt, our Collection Care Manager at the Friends to give us a list of sculptures in the parks we support (the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall) that we might highlight in honor of Women’s History Month.  Visit these sculptures by women and sculptures of women to celebrate the month.  She also reminded us of this terrific video, Boston Women’s Memorial: A Story in Images from the Women’s Heritage Trail.

Boston Public Garden

  • Edward Everett Hale (1912) by Bela Lyon Pratt
  • Triton Babies Fountain (1922) by Anna Coleman Ladd
  • Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1927) by Theo Alice Kitson
  • Small Child Fountain (1929) by Mary E. Moore
  • Boy and Bird Fountain (1934) by Bashka Paeff
  • Bagheera Fountain (1986) by Lilly Saarinen
  • Make Way for Ducklings (1987) by Nancy Schon

Commonwealth Avenue Mall

  • Leif Eriksson (1887) by Ann Whitney
  • Samuel Eliot Morisson (1982) by Penelope Jencks
  • Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1973) by Ivette Compagnion
  • Women’s  Memorial /Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, Phillis Wheatley (2003) by Meredith Gang Bergmann

We hope you will enjoy these works of art to commemorate this month, and throughout the year.  If you have a favorite piece or a story to share about your experiences with these works of art, we would love to hear from you.


Tree removal planned for Boston Common and the Public Garden

March 4, 2014
Existing stump along the Marlborough Gate in the Public Garden scheduled for removal

Existing stump along the Marlborough Gate in the Public Garden scheduled for removal

More than a dozen trees will be removed from the Boston Common and Public Garden this week by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. We wanted to let our members and larger community know that the Friends of the Public Garden is aware of this project and has been communicating with Parks and Recreation about it. The Friends is in agreement that the removal of these trees is necessary for the betterment of the parks.  The majority of the trees are Norway maples, an invasive species and are diseased and in a state of decline.  All remaining trees have structural defects that warrant removal. In addition to tree removal, stump removal of all these trees as well as several existing stumps will be taking place shortly after.


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