After being sidelined last year due to the pandemic, the Friends of the Public Garden’s “Skating with Friends,” featuring free ice skating on the Boston Common’s Frog Pond, returns Sunday, Feb. 20.
Complimentary skating sessions will be offered beginning at 10 a.m., noon, and 2, 4, and 6 p.m., with free skate rentals (while supplies last); free cookies; and free hot chocolate, courtesy of the Friends’ longtime partner, the Skating Club of Boston, which manages the year-round operations at the Frog Pond. Space will be limited to 125 skaters for each 90-minute session, and free tickets are available beginning 30 minutes before the start of each session.
Steve TenBarge, finance manager and Brewer Plaza liaison for the Friends, said the first ‘Skating with Friends” event, held on Feb. 9, 2020, attracted more than 1,200 guests to five free skating sessions on the Frog Pond. The sessions, each capped at 250 skaters, were all sold out except for the one in the morning, which had around 30 tickets remaining, added TenBarge.
Based on the success of the inaugural “Skating with Friends,” the Friends group had planned on making it an annual outing, said TenBarge, before COVID sidelined that plan and cancelled skating on the Frog Pond entirely in 2021.
When “Skating with Friends” returns later this month, attendance will be capped at 125 per session, compared to 250 per session the first year, said TenBarge, since they will be held on a smaller, temporary skating rink on the Frog Pond. (The Boston Parks and Recreation and the Skating Club of Boston worked together to install the temporary rink at the Frog Pond last December after the permanent rink was shut down due to an issue with its chilling mechanism.)
“We’re hoping for about 600 people this time,” said TenBarge, who added that the Frog Pond’s official mascot – Frog Pond Freddie is also expected to make a return appearance.
“Skating with Friends” also gives the Friends another opportunity to partner with the Skating Club of Boston, which also works with them to provide programming at Brewer Fountain on the Common.
“We thought this would be a great outdoor activity to collaborate on when the Brewer isn’t activated,” added TenBarge.
“Skating with Friends” also showcases another of the wide-ranging impacts that the Friends group has on the parks.
“Our commitment to the parks isn’t only to maintain the trees, the soil, and the sculptures, it’s also to bring programming to the Boston Common, so we’re always eager to bring people to the parks, and to offer them a sense of community, especially during these times with the pandemic still going on,” said TenBarge.