After a long winter, the Swan Boats will return to the Garden and visitors can ride the boats for their own storybook-like reverie. As per tradition, Mayor Marty Walsh will take the first ride of the season along with students from Boston Public Schools on April 14.
“We’re ready for spring in Boston and the tradition of joining the Paget family and local children for the first ride around the Public Garden lagoon,” Mayor Walsh said in a release.
The Swan Boats have been running for 142 years and are cultural markers of Boston. As illustrated by the children’s book by Robert McCloskey, “Make Way for Ducklings,” feathered-friends are huge for the park’s identity.
The tale that inspired shipbuilder Robert Paget, who designed the Swan Boats for the Boston Public Garden lagoon, comes from the opera "Lohengrin." In it, the daughter of the Grand Duke of Brabant, Elsa, has a dream about a mysterious knight. The knight appears in real life in a magic swan boat, fights in her name, and weds Elsa.
When it gets warmer, a couple of female swans, named Juliet and Romeo, are transported from the Franklin Zoo to live in the lagoon. Another icon is the park’s bronze statue of nine ducks in a trail, designed by Nancy Schon, who also created the Tortoise in the Hare piece in Copley Square.
At full capacity, each foot-paddled Swan Boat weighs three tons and float on copper-coated pontoons. They’re currently managed by Phil Paget, the great grandson of Robert Paget under Swan Boats Inc. The operation is cash-only, and does not run over the winter season or when there’s inclement weather. Rides cost $4-a-pop for adults and $2.50 for youth.
If you go:
Opens April 14, Boston Public Garden, swanboats.com