Friends of the Public Garden Turns 50

With this year marking the nonprofit’s 50th anniversary, representatives from the Friends of the Public Garden previewed some of the projects, programs and special events planned to commemorate the milestone during a kick-off event, Jan. 14, at Moakley Law Library at Suffolk Law School.

Councilor Kenzie Bok, Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, Friends of Public Garden Board Chair Leslie Adams, and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ryan Woods were on hand Tuesday morning, Jan.14, to help the Friends of the Public Garden (FOPG) kick off their 50th Anniversary at Suffolk University. The FOPG has many events and projects lined up throughout the year to celebrate their 50th year.

Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends group, said the nonprofit is now raising $4 million to underwrite the costs of restoring the Arlington Street entrance and reactivate two child fountains at the Public Garden; lighting statues and making landscape improvements of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall; and contracting American artist Janet Zweig to create “temporary art installation that will stop visitors in their tracks.”

Also, as part the approximately $2.8 restoration of the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial on the Boston Common that the Friends group is undertaking in partnership with the Boston Parks Department, the National Park Service and the Museum of African American History, around 900 feet of linear fencing will be removed to make way for interpretative panels that Vizza calls “essentially a museum without walls…that will tell the story of the monument.”

To celebrate its Golden Anniversary, Vizza said the Friends are also undertaking several special events aimed at Civic Engagement, including a free day of skating on the Frond Pond on the Boston Common on Feb. 9, as well as a 50th-birthday party for the Friends at Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common on Aug. 22 with “games, family friendly activities and, of course cake.”

‘The Boston Common, the Public Garden and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall belong to everyone…and we all need to be involved and advocating for them,” Vizza said. “Take the time to bring a friend this year to these parks, and to fall in love with these parks that are so essential to our city.”

Leslie Singleton Adam, chair of the Friends board of directors, lauded the Memorandum of Agreement that the nonprofit entered into with the Boston Parks Department on Friday that ensures to continuing their commitment to caring for the Public Garden, Commonwealth Avenue Mall and the Boston Common for the next 50 years and includes an addendum that outlines month by month work currently underway at the parks.

“This represents a tremendous amount of work by a tremendous amount of people…that sets up for our continued success over the next 50 years,” Adam said.

Unlike the previous agreement between the Friends group and the city, which Adam likened to a “pinkie shake,” this formalizes their partnership and makes it legally binding.

Ryan Woods, commissioner of the Boston Parks Department, also praised the “great partnership” between the city and the Friends group.

“Without the Friends, we would have the gems on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Public Garden and Boston Common,” Woods said.

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