Pandemic Causes Esplanade Events To Go Virtual

While the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation has postponed group events on the Charles River Esplanade through the end of this month, some organizations that had events planned in the park during this time have taken a cue from the Esplanade Association, which successfully reimagined its annual 5K as a virtual footrace for the first this year in response to the ongoing pandemic.

From June 1 to 7, 300 runners from three countries (the U.S., Brazil and India) and 13 states participated in the virtual race by running or walking 5K (3.1 miles) anywhere in the world at their own pace. And while the number of participants this year was only a fraction of the 1,000 runners the event typically draws, the virtual race was still seen as an unqualified success.

A view of Back Bay from the Charles River Esplanade.

“For us, it was a  successful event, but not on par with a typical 5K, but in experimenting with something new, we were pleased with the results,” said Michael Nichols, executive director of the Esplanade Association. “We certainly thought that a virtual race was the responsible way to hold the event, so we’re not surprised to see other organizations that had their events planned for the Esplanade follow suit.”

 Among them is the American Podiatric Medical Association Run, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, July 25, but instead became a virtual event that continues through Aug. 8, and the AIDS Walk & Run, which was scheduled to take place on the Esplanade June 7, but will now take place virtually as well.

In lieu of performing on the Esplanade, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra staged a virtual concert called “Simple Gifts” last night, July 15, and has another entitled “Dances and Delights” planned for Wednesday, July 29, from 7 to 8 p.m. that will stream live on its website at

“Even as Massachusetts begins to reopen and more things are being allowed outside, we join DCR in recommending caution in holding any group activities on the Esplanade,” Nichols said.

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