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A Spectacular Day for Ducks

May 14, 2015

More than 1,000 people enjoyed a Mother’s Day full of feathers, frolicking and fun at the Friends of the Public Garden’s annual Duckling Day event, presented in partnership with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Duckling Day celebrates the classic children’s book Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Children, many dressed up in duckling garb, enjoyed a morning of family-friendly activities followed by a reading of the book before joining a spirited parade through the Boston Common and Public Garden, led by the Harvard University Marching Band.

“It is heartwarming to meet families enjoying Duckling Day and hear thoughts from first-time participants as well as people attending because it has been a family tradition for several generations,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden. “We appreciate how much enthusiasm people express for this event as well as for our mission to care for the parks where it is held.”

Rhondella Richardson of WCVB Channel 5 News was the emcee of the event, kicking off festivities at Parkman bandstand on Boston Common. Little ducklings waddled from one activity to the next while enjoying a day in America’s first public park. Moms were treated to mini massages. Little ones decorated Mother’s Day cards using stamps crafted from carved fruits and vegetables at the Whole Foods sponsored booth; enjoyed performances by Jenny the Juggler and Peter the Magician; were entertained by puppet shows; got their faces painted; walked a tightrope set up by Esh Circus Arts; and had their photos taken with duck mascot Kilroy who was on loan from Boston Duck Tours. Boston Duck Tours also donated “quacking” sound makers for attendees. Not only did children dress the part; thanks to Boston Duck Tours they sounded it too!

Following the much-anticipated reading of Make Way for Ducklings by Wheelock Family Theater with the historic Parkman Bandstand as the backdrop, Elizabeth Vizza and Mayor Martin J. Walsh greeted the crowd before directing everyone to line up for the parade. Little feet, big feet, and quite a few feet that appeared to be duck feet paraded behind the Harvard Band through the Common and into the Garden, ending near the Ducklings statue to enjoy a few final songs before wandering off for a picnic or other family activity. .

The Motor Mart Garage was the lead sponsor of Duckling Day. Cambridge Trust and Boston Parents Paper were also sponsors. Proceeds from the event support the Friends of the Public Garden, a non-profit citizen’s advocacy group formed in 1970 to preserve and enhance the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall in collaboration with the Mayor and the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Boston. A model public-private partnership and the first in the region, the Friends membership is open to all and numbers over 2,500. For more information visit

(Photos by Chris McIntosh)

Record-Setting Green and White Ball!

May 14, 2015

On Friday, May 8, 2015, The Friends of the Public Garden celebrated its 18th annual Green and White Ball at Taj Boston. This festive black-tie party was the largest and most successful Ball to date, raising $500,000 to provide care for the Public Garden, Boston Common and Commonwealth Avenue Mall, which has been the mission of the Friends since its inception 45 years ago. 275 guests enjoyed a lively cocktail reception, music by a jazz trio and DJ, and a seated dinner in the Taj Grand Ballroom, which was transformed by Winston Flowers into a garden oasis. Proceeds from this year’s Ball will provide critical funds for park stewardship, a most essential element of the Friends’ efforts that ensure the 1,700 trees and over 40 pieces of public art and newly restored turf areas in the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall remain beautiful for all to enjoy. The Friends of the Public Garden would like to thank the Green and White Ball co-Chairs Jennifer Dolins, Alexis Egan, Annsley McAleer, Renee Skeffington and Kerry Swords, the committee, all of the guests and Taj Boston for their tremendous support!

For more photos, see the album on our Facebook page.

Friends of the Public Garden Launches Tour Program

May 12, 2015

Bobby Moore (third from right) hosted a tour of the Public Garden for volunteer docents. (Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari)

More than a dozen people have recently taken a very special interest in the Public Garden and have been studying this iconic greenspace for hours on end. What they are learning about America’s first public botanical garden is not for a class or research for a book. This studious bunch is the inaugural group of volunteer docents of the Friends of the Public Garden that will be serving as guides for a new tour program.

Walking a route that encompasses the northern half of the Garden, tour participants will gain a deeper understanding of the Garden’s special place in the history of Boston and the country. Hour-long tours will include interesting facts and anecdotes about history, horticulture, and sculpture. Casual visitors of the area are likely to find a new appreciation of its significance and neighbors who use it frequently are likely to discover at least a thing or two that might surprise them.

Docents have spent many volunteer hours learning about the Garden and working to craft their tours. In February, their training began with a Friends-sponsored lecture, Searching for the Histories of the Boston Public Garden by Boston University Professor Keith Morgan, held at Suffolk University. Friends President Emeritus Henry Lee gave a talk at the Friends office that traced the Garden’s history as well as the founding of the organization and highlights from its 45 year work in caring for the Garden in partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Additional information sessions included trees and plantings by Friends Project Manager Bob Mulcahy; the history of the Swan Boats by fourth generation owner Lyn Paget; and the Garden’s sculpture including the Friends sculpture care program by Friends Collections Care Manager Sarah Hutt.

(Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari)

(Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari)

The group also attended two special training sessions. The first (pictured above) took place at the City’s greenhouses, where the City’s Superintendent of Horticulture, Anthony Hennessy and his team hosted the group. On an unseasonably cold day in March, docents were delighted to shed their coats in the 80-degree warmth of the greenhouses to learn about the plantings that would be in the Garden, and throughout the city, in the weeks to follow.

Volunteers were visibly enthralled as Anthony announced, “Right now, there are 35,000 tulips waiting to burst into bloom once the snow melts; most beds have 500 tulips, but the “footbeds” surrounding George Washington have 3500-4000 tulips in them.”

The second session was a guided tour of the Public Garden by Bobby Moore, longtime member of the Friends board and chair of the Public Garden Committee, who also owned a tour company and is an experienced guide. She recalled the years when she would take her toddler-aged children for walks through the Garden, a short stroll from her Beacon Hill home. Moore’s deep love of the Garden was palpable as she shared stories of the poor condition of the Garden in the1970s. Moore told the docents about broken fences and large amounts of litter, and of the important work of the Friends through the years to improve the Garden to where it is today.

Sidney Kenyon of Beacon Hill and Sherley Smith of the Back Bay are champions of the new docent program. They are committed volunteers with a deep love of the Public Garden. In their leadership roles, they are coordinating this inaugural class of volunteer docents that will be guiding groups throughout the summer in teams of two. The guides are eager to share what they have learned with others interested in gaining a deeper knowledge and appreciation of Boston’s special and most iconic greenspace, the Public Garden.

Register for a tour today.

A Schedule to Plan Your Duckling Day

May 8, 2015

Looking forward to seeing many of our dearest feathered friends on Sunday. Here is a list of activities to help you plan what is sure to be one of your duckiest days ever. If you have not pre-registered, have no fear, registration opens at 10:00 a.m. at the event. Hope to see you there.  Quack!


Take the Duckling Day Quiz

May 4, 2015
Children play on Make Way for Ducklings scupture at end of parade

Children play on Make Way for Ducklings sculpture at end of 2014 Duckling Day parade

Test your Duckling Day IQ with our quiz! 

True or False

1. The author of Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey, kept a family of ducklings in the bathtub of his apartment as he was writing the book. 

2. The Make Way for Ducklings sculpture is the only one one of its kind in the world! 

3. The Make Way for Ducklings book is the official children’s book of Massachusetts? 

4. “Oooh-ack” is definitely the proper pronunciation of duckling Ouack’s name.

5. Duckling Day has been a Boston Tradition for less than 10 years. 

1. True. 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.”

2. False. 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. True. 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!

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

5. False.  Duckling Day has been a beloved Mother’s Day tradition in Boston for over 30 years! It’s a morning of fun for the whole family organized by the Friends of the Public Garden.

Duckling Day is on May 10th, Mother’s Day. 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 is hosted by the non-profit Friends of the Public Garden.

You may register at the event. Registration opens at 10 a.m.

And the FOPG Instagram Contest Winner is…

May 1, 2015
Photo by @brianmcw from Instagram

Photo by @brianmcw from Instagram

Congratulations to the winner of our #FOPGContest, @brianmcw!

The attendees are our Meet the Friends reception on April 30th voted, and while all the photos impressed the crowd, Brian’s shot in the Public Garden was chosen as the winner.

Brian will receive a one-year membership to the Friends and two tickets to our Summer Party!

To see the other entries to the contest, search #FOPGContest on Instagram. For more of Brian’s gorgeous photos, search for @brianmcw.

Thanks again to everyone who entered!

FOPG Instagram Contest Finalists

April 29, 2015

The finalists for the Friends of the Public Garden’s Instagram contest have officially been announced. The contest, honoring the Friends Membership Month, received a total of 167 entries, 41 participants, and a combined total of 15,568 photo “likes.” Though we had many beautiful, interesting, and creative pictures submitted into the contest, these five participants received the highest amount of “likes” on each of their individual photos in order to become finalists.

One photo will be chosen at the Meet the Friends reception on April 30th. Attendees will vote for their favorite picture and the person whose photo receives the most votes will win a one-year membership to the Friends and two tickets to our Summer Party slated for July.

The finalists:


Photo by @brianmcw from Instagram

Photo by @brianmcw from Instagram


Photo by hughinboston on Instagram

Photo by hughinboston on Instagram


Photo by burnashburn on Instagram

Photo by burnashburn on Instagram


Photo by annahuizi on Instagram

Photo by annahuizi on Instagram


Photo by jcio on Instagram

Photo by jcio on Instagram


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