Fun in the Parks…in the Winter!

By Liz Vizza

       As we head into the heart of winter, many Bostonians tend to stay inside, choosing to stay warm and dry rather than bundle up and face the cold. Yet even while our public green spaces are blanketed in white, winter still brings us opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.

       While the other three seasons call for longer walks filled with colorful blooms, rides in the Swan Boats, and pick-up softball games, the winter weather provides us distinctive pleasures. From a beautifully lit Commonwealth Avenue Mall perfect for showing off snowmen to those passing by on foot or by car, to ice skating with family and friends on the Frog Pond followed by a soul-warming cup of hot chocolate, to the many fun events on the Boston Common from the tree and menorah lightings to fireworks on First Night, winters in our parks are something special.  

       As the advocacy organization and steward of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the Friends of the Public Garden (the Friends) works to preserve and enhance these public, open spaces no matter the season. We strive to keep these natural havens in our city in great shape for all to enjoy. From planting trees and maintaining lawns, to restoring sculptures and fountains, to enlivening Brewer Fountain Plaza by Park Street, to inviting Boston Public School students for an annual Boston Common history immersion experience and lobbying for more funding so all can benefit from beautiful green space, the Friends works to bring these beloved public spaces to life for the millions of people who visit them every year.

       For cities filled with tall buildings, thousands of cars, and acres of concrete, green spaces are invaluable. Here in Boston, 98% of residents live within a ten minute walk to a park—something worth celebrating!  In partnership with the City of Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department for over 48 years, the Friends  raises and invests over $1 million in private contributions annually on parks care and capital improvements for the Common, Garden, and Mall. Our goal is to ensure these remain healthy spaces that all of Boston can take pride in and enjoy. Our public spaces age, renew, and change with the times, but always provide countless benefits, serving as an important refuge in urban areas. Every neighborhood and community is strengthened by the protection and enhancement of their green spaces.

       As we venture into 2019, we invite Bostonians to look at all of our parks holistically—-yes, as green spaces filled with trees and flowers, but also places of community-building and gathering, recreation, historic importance, art and reflection, as well as critical contributors to larger objectives like public health, economic development, tourism, and climate resilience.

       So when you’re looking out the window longing for spring, remember that New England winters are meant to be enjoyed. The fun and beauty in Boston’s parks is something that exists year-round—and something definitely worth bundling up for.

       Locally, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department invite families to the Franklin Park Golf Course Clubhouse for the Children’s Winter Festival on Saturday, February 2, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

       The festival includes a New England Aquarium tadpole exhibit; Science on the Street tabletop experiments; an artifact display hosted by the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology; a Boston Nature Center scavenger hunt and nature hike; and taxidermy, wildlife and live horse demonstrations with the Boston Park Rangers.

       The festival will also feature Rosalita’s Puppets, winter arts and crafts, balloon animals, and refreshments provided by New England Coffee.

       Snowshoes will be provided along with sleds for sledding. Participants should wear weather-appropriate clothing and winter or hiking boots.

       Free parking is available at the clubhouse parking lot located at One Circuit Drive in Franklin Park. For more information, please call the Boston Parks and Recreation Department at (617) 635-4505, visit www.cityofboston.gov/parks or go to www.facebook.com/bostonparksdepartment.

       We hope to see you in the parks this winter!Liz Vazza is the Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden

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