A Spectacular Day for Ducks

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 www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

(Photos by Chris McIntosh)

Take the Duckling Day Quiz

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.

Mark Your Calendars for Duckling Day 2015!

2014 Duckling Day parade weaves through the Boston Common and Public Garden, led by the Harvard University Marching Band
2014 Duckling Day parade weaves through the Boston Common and Public Garden, led by the Harvard University Marching Band

The Friends of the Public Garden, in association with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, will celebrate Mother’s Day with Boston-area families during its annual Duckling Day on Sunday, May 10th. A beloved tradition for more than 30 years, Duckling Day celebrates the children’s classic book, “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey. Every year, over 1,000 people meet up and parade through Boston’s most picturesque parks, dressed like characters from the story. Led by the Harvard Marching Band, the parade will begin on the Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand and end in the Public Garden near the famous Make Way for Ducklings sculptures. Bring your camera – the parade is possibly the most adorable thing you’ll ever see!

Prior to the parade there will be plenty of family entertainment including crafts, face painters, a magician, and puppet show. Walk on a circus tightrope with Esh Circus Arts, or play on the Common with the Knucklebones crew. Moms are invited to enjoy a free mini-massage thanks to local volunteer Massage Therapists. All families are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy springtime on the Common!

Mayor Walsh will greet families prior to the parade, and actors from the Wheelock Family Theatre will do a dramatic reading from Make Way for Ducklings. The registration fee is $35 per family in advance and $40 per family the day of the event. Each child who registers will receive a special goodie bag filled with Duckling Day themed items.

Quick Facts:

Sunday, May 10, 2015
Boston Common – Parkman Bandstand
Hosted by the Friends of the Public Garden
10:00 a.m. – Registration begins
11:45 a.m. – Mayor Walsh and Executive Director Liz Vizza greet families
12:00 p.m. – Parade begins
The registration fee is $35 per family online before May 8 and $40 per family the day of the event

Register today!

For nearby parking, please consider the Motor Mart Garage, the lead sponsor of this event.

Motor Mart Garage

 

Thousands Flock to the Friends 2014 Duckling Day Event

The non-profit Friends of the Public Garden, in partnership with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, celebrated Mother’s Day with Boston-area families during its annual Duckling Day on Sunday, May 11th. Duckling Day celebrates the children’s classic book Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey.

J.C. Monahan of WCVB’s Channel 5 News and Chronicle was the event’s emcee, and was joined for the festivities by her husband and two daughters. Attendance at the event broke a record with well over 2,000 people gathered to enjoy activities for children, mini massages for moms, and a spirited parade led by the Harvard University Marching Band.

“Duckling Day has been a Boston tradition for more than 30 years and the Friends of the Public Garden has been honored to host it since 2006,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden. “It is terrific to see families participating in activities on the Common, marching in the parade to the famous Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Public Garden, and coming together to celebrate our public spaces in such a delightful way.”

Family entertainment and activities prior to the parade included face painters, a magician, juggler, puppet show, and an active play area for children led by Knucklebones. Participants eventually nestled on the lawn of the Boston Common in front of the Parkman Bandstand as they waited in anticipation of Wheelock Family Theatre’s dramatic reading of Make Way for Ducklings. Following the reading, Mayor Martin Walsh and Friends Executive Director Vizza thanked the crowd for coming out to the event and kicked-off the parade.

The Motor Mart Garage was the lead sponsor of Duckling Day. 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 number over 2,500 members and many volunteers.

Visit our Facebook album to view more photos.

 

 

 

Five things you didn’t know about “Make Way for Ducklings”


Friends of the Public Garden Duckling Day

 

You’ve posed your kids for photos at the famous sculptures.  You’ve followed Mrs. Mallard through countless bedtimes and story hours.  You’ve shown your Boston pride by gifting the book at baby showers near and far…but here’s a few little-known facts that make a local favorite even more fun:

5. 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.”

4. 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. 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!

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

1. Registration is now open for Duckling Day, a beloved Mother’s Day tradition for over 30 years!  It’s a morning of fun for the whole family organized by the Friends of the Public Garden.  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 comes courtesy of the non-profit Friends of the Public Garden.

 

Duckling Day Parade 2013 introduces a new parade route

duckling-dayThe Duckling Day Parade has become Boston’s most adorable Mother’s Day tradition, and that’s no lie. Children (and sometimes parents too) don duckling attire and retrace the route taken by Mama Mallard in Robert McCloskey’s classic Make Way for Ducklings. Each year our little ducklings flock to the Boston Common ready for an adventure. They are greeted by a magician, a juggler a face painter and others who are there to celebrate this special occasion. When the time comes the ducklings line up with their families and the parade begins. They march out of the Common down Beacon Street and take a stroll through Beacon Hill. If you haven’t seen it in person, just imagine waking up on Mother’s Day to hundreds of children dressed as ducks parading past your home. Did we mention this is Boston’s most adorable Mother’s Day tradition? It may even be the most adorable Mother’s Day tradition in the world. Others seem to agree.

Each year more and more families are participating in the Duckling Day Parade. In fact, we have outgrown our parade route. This year, for the first time, the children and families will not be retracing the steps of the famed Mother Mallard. Instead, the parade will take place within the Boston Common and Public Garden to minimize the disruption our ducklings cause to city traffic. We are delighted that so many have embraced the Duckling Day parade as the premiere Mother’s Day event in Boston.

At just $40 per family it is certainly an affordable adventure. We hope to see you there this Sunday!

Register in advance online for a $5 discount.

 

Duckling Day’s Special Guest

We’re so excited to celebrate Duckling Day this Sunday with families from the Boston area and our special guest Jane McCloskey! Jane is the daughter of Robert McCloskley, author of the book that is the inspiration behind our Duckling Day Parade. The parade has become a wonderful Boston tradition that allows families to come together and have fun in the Boston Common and Public Garden.

One of our favorite parts of this Mother’s Day celebration is the dramatic reading of Make Way for Ducklings, by The Wheelock Family Theatre. But this year we’ve got even more in store! Jane has offered to sign copies of a book she wrote about her father, she will also have copies of her father’s beloved story on hand. Jane will be there all day to enjoy the Wheelock Family Theater Performance and all the fun activities inspired by Make Way For Ducklings.

If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late! You and your family can still register anytime leading up to the event, you can even register on the Common Sunday morning.  Check out our newly-designed website for more information on the event and register by clicking here. Don’t forget to get your duck costumes ready, too! It’s a tradition that children participating in the festivities dress like their favorite duckling from the storybook. Registration and entertainment (including face painting, magicians and balloon artists!) begin on the Common at 10:30 A.M. at the base of the Shaw Memorial, across Beacon Street from the State House. The parade will begin promptly at noon.

We can’t wait to see you at Duckling Day! And many thanks to Jane for sharing this special day with us!