Mayor Martin J. Walsh will host the first ride of the season on the popular Boston Swan Boats as they open at the Public Garden lagoon on Saturday, April 15, at 11:30 a.m.
“This will be the 141st year the Swan Boats have entertained residents and visitors in the Boston Public Garden,” said Mayor Walsh. “Boston is ready for spring, and it’s a wonderful tradition to join the Paget family and Boston students for the first springtime ride around the Public Garden lagoon.”
This annual rite of spring is made possible thanks to the Paget family, owners and operators of the Swan Boats first launched by Irish immigrant and shipbuilder Robert Paget. Mr. Paget designed the Swan Boats after attending the opera Lohengrin in New York City. At the end of the opera, the hero crosses a river in a boat drawn by a swan.
Mayor Walsh will be joined on the first ride of the year with students from Boston Public Schools including the Ellis Mendell Elementary School and the Higginson/Lewis K-8 School, both in Roxbury.
The students are drawing pictures of the Swan Boats in art class and their work will be randomly selected from all the drawings created. All of the artwork chosen will then be on display at Boston City Hall.
2017 marks the 141st season for the Swan Boats. The oldest and smallest boat in the fleet just celebrated its 106th season, while the newest was launched in 1993. The swan on today’s boats is made from either copper or fiberglass, depending on the age of the boat, and encloses a paddle mechanism that is used to foot propel the boat through the water.
Fully loaded, each Swan Boat weighs three tons and carries up to twenty passengers. The Swan Boats are built on oak framed pontoons sheathed in copper just as they were initially constructed in 1877. After being stored in a safe place for the winter, the boats are returned to the Public Garden Lagoon in the spring with Mayor Walsh and his young guests celebrating the first ride of the season.