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Friends Summer Party Slated for Taj Rooftop

June 23, 2015


UPDATE: This event is sold out. To have your name added to the waiting list, please call our office at 617-723-8144.

We hope you can join us. This is typically a sell-out event so please purchase tickets early.

This event is generously sponsored by First Republic Bank.

Boston Students Make History on Boston Common

June 17, 2015

On Monday, June 1st the Friends of the Public Garden hosted the sixth annual Making History on the Common. Roughly 700 local elementary and middle school students and their teachers traveled to the Boston Common to learn about the history of Boston and participate in fun and educational activities presented by numerous nonprofit and city partners including Historic New England,  the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, the Freedom Trail Foundation, and Boston’s City Archaeologist.
“It is inspiring to experience the enthusiasm students express as they become fully engaged in interactive history lessons on Boston Common, one of our country’s most historic sites,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden.

The cold rain on the day of the event could not dampen the students’ eagerness to learn about the city’s history and engage in the various activities that each organization had to offer. Full from the apples donated by Whole Foods Market and wrapped in rain ponchos, the students visited over a dozen stations, each portraying a different aspect of historic life in Boston. At 20th Century Protests, students learned about use of the Boston Common for protests throughout the decades, and wrote on a large protest sign about what they would protest in their own lives. The group from the 54th Massachusetts Regiment told stories about the first all-black regiment in the Civil War, memorialized in the Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial across from the State House on the Common. The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers’ tent gave students a chance to learn some of the dances and play games that were popular in the 1800’s. The students played in the rain with sticks and hoops provided by Historic New England, having as much fun now as children did centuries ago. One of the most eye-catching tents was that of the Ancient Fishweir Project and Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers. Students learned about the use of fishweir, a replica of which was set up where the bay would have reached in the early 1600’s, as a way to catch fish along the shoreline. The students then learned a chant and danced around, just as the Wampanoag had done thousands of years prior.

“Teachers and students alike tell us that this is their favorite field trip of the year,” said Vizza. “We are so appreciative of the many non-profit and public partners who join us to make this event possible. We are also grateful for the financial support we have received from lead sponsor Motor Mart Garage and through a grant from MassHumanities.”

At the end of the event, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company began its annual “June Day” ceremony on the Common. Classes that stayed after Making History watched the group discharge cannons and march through the Common in its annual festive re-enactment of their drum-head ceremony.

Barks and Bagels on Boston Common

June 4, 2015

barks and bagels

The Common Canine, a subgroup of the Friends of the Public Garden is teaming up with the Frog Pond to host the first annual Barks and Bagels event on Saturday, June 6th at 8:00AM.

Walk your dog down to the Boston Common Frog Pond for licensing, microchip services, training, and treats. For the owners, there will be coffee, bagels, and exciting give-aways!

Barks and Bagels is a fun way to treat your four-legged friend, meet other owners, and support the Common Canine group and the work they do to provide the Boston Common off-leash dog program.

For more information on Common Canine, visit their page on our website.

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!



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