For Boston residents, the onset of winter includes many things—the intensification of New England weather, strolls up and down a lit-up Newbury St. for some holiday shopping, as well as a population decrease as thousands of college students head home for the Holidays. Perhaps the most highly anticipated winter event across the city, however, is the opening of the Boston Common Frog Pond.
Although the Frog Pond is open for activities year round, its popularity surges in the winter season, as the pond is transformed into a public skating rink. Owned and operated by the Skating Club of Boston—in partnership with the Boston Parks Department and the city of Boston—the Frog Pond is located in the northern end of Boston Common, and attracts thousands of visitors each week during the winter season.
While public skating is one of the most popular attractions offered by the Frog Pond, the venue also hosts an extensive series of events and activities planned for the holiday season.
Last Thursday, the Frog Pond hosted its “Skating Spectacular,” a free figure skating show preceding the 73rd annual Boston Common Tree Lighting Ceremony hosted by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ‘09. Self-described as a “free world class figure skating show,” the display featured national and international figure skating champions who performed in synchronized skating and theatre ice teams.
On New Years Eve, Bostonians will have opportunity to attend another Frog Pond Spectacular as part of First Night Boston—a series of performances and events offered annually around Boston to celebrate New Years Eve. Like the tree lighting event, the New Years ceremony will feature performances by figure skaters, as well as synchronized skating and theatre-on-ice displays.
The performers are not always the same each year: the attraction has featured an extensive list of past Olympic performers, as well as certified coaches and celebrities.
“It varies year to year as far as who comes, but sometimes we’re lucky,” Schaub said. “Last year was an Olympic year, and we had a lot of figure skaters here. Nancy Kerrigan was even here talking to the audience.”
Looking to the future, the Frog Pond is set to bring international skaters to Boston Common. In 2016, Boston will host the ISU World Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden. Outside of the winter shows, the Frog Pond also functions as a skating academy for those who are not so confident in their skating technique. The pond hires certified instructors from US Figure Skating Association, and offers various types of lessons to anyone that can stand up on skates and bear the Boston winter weather for a couple of hours.
The venue also partners with local organizations across Boston, offering a series of community programs including “Skating in the Schools.” Offered through the Frog Pond by the Friends of the Public Garden and the Skating Club of Boston, the initiative seeks to engage local students in the classroom and on the ice rink, with aims of improving study habits, social skills, conduct, and grades.
“The program combines in-classroom teaching as well as on-ice learning, free of charge,” Schaub said. “It’s our hope that we can get them hooked on skating and they’ll become regular customers.”
“Skating in the Schools” was founded 20 years ago by former national skating competitor Fred Palascak, who hoped it could be a place for him to teach and coach young skaters. The caretakers of the Frog Pond have since aimed to preserve Palascak’s spirit in the ice.
“We want to give back to the community,” Schaub said, “because that’s what we’re here for.”
Featured Image courtesy of Boston Common Frog Pond