About the CARES Act

To encourage increased giving to non-profits, the Federal Government recently passed the CARES Act, which reinstates and increases a number of charitable deduction items.

If you itemize, you can deduct gifts totaling up to 100% of your Adjusted Gross Income. This is for gifts made between January 1 and June 30, 2020.

Donors who want to accelerate pledge payments and/or make significant commitments are encouraged to discuss this benefit with their financial advisors.

The Act also allows, for those who do not elect to itemize deductions, to deduct up to $300 in qualified charitable contributions. This total applies to any return, whether an individual or a joint return.

if you give to us right now, more of your donation (up to $300) will be counted against your taxes than at any other time!*

We are not financial consultants and recommend that individuals should confirm / consult with one about tax policy.

The Composers on the Hatch Shell

A notable feature of the Hatch Shell is the names of composers emblazoned on it.​

​The decision of which names to memorialize on the new Shell, in 1940, fell to Arthur Fiedler and Serge Koussevitzky, BSO conductor at the time. They felt overwhelmed by the decision and decided to put the issue out to others. In the end, they put the names of 97 composers on a ballot and sent it out to 67 local musicians, music writers, and concert-goers and asked them to vote on who was the greatest! Each voter was to select 50 names from among the 97. ​

A press report from the time explained that “in a commendable effort to avoid any more controversy than necessary, no living composers were included.’’ However, Sibelius and Stravinsky “may be added” because “musically speaking, their life work is about over.” Composers were grouped into seven genres: Pre-classical, Classical, Romantic, Modern, Operatic, American, and Popular. There was a unanimous consensus on Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Debussy, and Wagner. Schuman and Schubert missed unanimity by one vote. The American composer with the most votes was MacDowell. ​

The results of the vote were provided to the architect who had freedom in choosing the final list so that the letters would fit on the Hatch Shell.​

Only two names added since the completion of the Shell in 1940.  John Williams in 1993 and Amy Beach in 2000. Williams, the former Pops Conductor and well-known composer is the only living composer whose name is on the Shell. Beach, a renowned Boston composer whose Gaelic Symphony was premiered by the BSO in 1896, is the only woman whose name is on the Shell. Their names are found on the very top tier of the granite on either side of the stage.

Below is a complete list of the 87 names on the Hatch Shell:

  • BYRD
  • WOLF

This Spring is Different, yet…

by Debbie Wiess, April 2020

Running along the Charles River

I observe the cyclical rhythm of nature.

From the equinox mid-March and through

April and May there are all sorts of small

indications that reveal a world that is

awakening and renewing itself.

The changes are imperceptible.

One hardly notices anything at first.

But over time one remarks 

more and more  

the joyful chirping of the birds

resounding in one’s ears,

the grass covering the ground

with a carpet in shades of green,

the trees and plants, stark naked,

dressing themselves in leaves and buds,

the cherry and magnolia trees showing off

their rosy blooms with vainglorious pride,

and the daffodils, their shoots emerging

from the soil later open in an explosion

of bright yellow.

Most remarkable is the quality of  

the light as the days lengthen.

The sun’s rays caressing the Earth

envelop everything in a new luminosity.

The events of Man

that mark the season: 

Opening Day of Baseball,

Boston Marathon,

Art in Bloom,

among others, are cancelled or

rescheduled for later in the year.

Still, nothing and no one

can stop the arrival of Spring.

Nature does not care

about society’s concerns

and continues on its course.

Nevertheless, our daily life is up-ended.

Our activities are now very limited.

No more movies, no more theatre, 

no more visits to museums, 

no more shows, no more concerts, 

no more dinners out in restaurants, 

no more plans with friends,

no more family gatherings,

and above all no more traveling…

Sometimes it seems that there

is no more anything. However, there

is still all the world out there.

Restricted to staying inside the home,

we keep our distance one from another.

Wearing home-made and make-shift masks

when we go outside for errands

and for exercise or some air.

Now my excursions to the Esplanade 

to run have become wonderful excuses

to escape the confines of my apartment;

more than that they are a necessity

and a gift.

Nonetheless life goes on…

That, one is able to attest to

particularly at this time of the year.

Life very simply is just much simpler.

Everything appears normal, 

yet nothing is at all normal.

Yes, this year Spring is very different. 

But, it is also exactly the same.

About Debra Wiess: Back Bay writer Debbie Wiess has always appreciated her proximity to the Esplanade where she regularly goes to run. And often while on her runs along the Charles she finds inspiration for her work. Now more than ever she is grateful for the calm, beauty and solace of the Esplanade.

All photos on this blog are by Debra. View This Spring is Different, yet… as a PDF here.

2019 Year in Review

As our 19th year as an organization comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the incredible things we accomplished together last year. The numbers speak for themselves:

23,500 estimated attendees at Esplanade Association events (concerts, fitness classes, tours & much more!)

5,400 miles run by participants in EA-sponsored 5Ks in the spring and fall

5,100 bulbs planted to bloom bright come spring!

2,030 yards of invasive vegetation removed

1,077 bags of trash removed

1,604 volunteers spent 4,936 hours in the park (the equivalent of 2 full-time employees working a calendar year)!

527 yards of leaves raked

165 benches painted

70+ gallons of paint used in public art projects, including 3 new murals on formerly graffiti-ridden pumphouses

34 dogs joined us for the first ever Kentucky Dog Derby

20 trees planted and 41 trees received soil amendments (air spading, fertilizer, and/or mulch)

17 different subzones where trees can grow on the Esplanade

15 summer camps from across Greater Boston came to the Esplanade for free field days

5 layers of material in the Bruins helmet installed on the Fiedler head (which also measured 17-feet across!)

Thank you for all of your support!

There are so many ways you can enjoy the Esplanade in 2020, including checking out public art, picnicking with friends, taking a fitness class, volunteering, enjoying a bike ride, connecting to nature, going for a run, lounging by the river, playing, attending a concert, smelling the flowers, and much more. We can’t wait to see you in the park!

Spring 2020 Tree Care on the Esplanade

The Esplanade is home to over 1,700 trees, making the park a critical green corridor along the Charles River. These trees provide valuable ecological benefits, including storing carbon dioxide, filtering stormwater, and providing a home for small mammals and birds. They enchant visitors in the spring when the cherry blossoms bloom, offer shade in the hot summer months, and turn spectacular colors each fall.

Although the tree canopy may look healthy from a distance, data from a 2015 inventory commissioned by the Esplanade Association in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR), as well as a recent assessment performed in a joint effort by the DCR’s arborist and our certified arborist on staff, shows underlying weaknesses that pose a threat to the long-term vitality of the canopy. Just four tree species make up nearly 60% of the park’s trees, making them vulnerable to insect deforestation and less attractive as habitat for diverse wildlife species. In addition, 15% of trees are dead or in poor condition, posing a hazard to public safety. These high-risk trees, which have deteriorated to a point where they can no longer be saved, will continue to decline, making them more susceptible to pests, diseases, and wood-decaying fungi. Trees suffering from these conditions can become structurally unstable, resulting in branches, or even whole trees, falling.

But there’s hope ahead! In order to ensure a healthy tree canopy along the Charles River Esplanade for generations to come, the Esplanade Association has established the first-of-its kind Lasting Esplanade Arbor Fund (L.E.A.F.). The first 20 new trees of several hundred to be added as part of L.E.A.F. in the next ten years were planted in fall 2019, with 32 more plantings to come in spring 2020. Planting new and healthy trees is the first step in creating a healthier and more resilient tree canopy along the Esplanade. The L.E.A.F. project and tree planting plan follow Arthur Shurcliff’s historic plan for the Esplanade and was approved by the Boston Landmarks Commission, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the Conservation Commission.

As part of this work, 32 of the park’s dead and dying trees will be removed in spring 2020. This work will be performed with the support of the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Partnership Matching Funds Program. DCR will lead and complete the tree removal process. For each high-risk tree removed along the Esplanade, another tree will be replanted, including more diverse species such as the American Sweetgum, Black Tupelo ‘Wildfire’, Red Maple ‘October Glory’, and several other types and cultivars.

The L.E.A.F. project is made possible by the Esplanade Association in partnership with DCR and the generous donors and organizations listed below. You can learn more about our tree care efforts at Esplanade.org/Trees. If you have any questions, please contact: Alison McRae, Capital Projects Manager at the Esplanade Association, at amcrae@esplanade.org or 617.227.0365 – Ext. 407 or Olivia K. Dorrance, Press Secretary at the Department of Conservation and Recreation, at olivia.k.dorrance@state.ma.us or 617-626-4967.

L.E.A.F. is Made Possible By:

Esplanade tree care is made possible with the support of:

Anonymous (2)

Boston Athletic Association

The Biber Foundation

City of Boston Community Preservation Fund

Beacon Hill Garden Club

The Garden Club of the Back Bay

Boston Planning and Development Agency

2019 Visionary Award Recipient Dan Mathieu

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)

American Association of Endodontists offering free endodontic care in Boston

WHAT: The American Association of Endodontists (AAE) is collaborating with endodontics departments at the schools of dental medicine at Boston University, Harvard University, and Tufts University to provide free endodontic care to patients, pre-qualified on the basis of need, in the Boston area.


WHY: This past March, AAE launched a contest to spotlight four beautiful natural landmarks from around the country and have people vote on which one they felt was most worth saving. The Charles River Esplanade, preserved by the Esplanade Association, won a $20,000 donation from AAE, as well as $30,000 in free endodontic care from Boston-area dental schools for the city of Boston.


HOW: It is estimated that the three schools combined will perform endodontic treatments on more than 60 patients, providing a combined total of more than $30,000 worth of endodontic care. Treatments will be done primarily on anterior and premolar teeth. Patients are being prescreened and scheduled in advance from community health clinics, and most treatments should be completed in one visit on that day.


WHEN: Monday, November 18, 2019

1 p.m. — 7 p.m. EST



  • Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Department of Endodontics
  • Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Division of Endodontics
  • Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Department of Endodontics



  • American Association of Endodontists in collaboration with:
    • Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Department of Endodontics
    • Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Division of Endodontics
    • Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Department of Endodontics


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Priya Ramanathan at pramanathan@apcoworldwide.com or (312) 368-7537.


Testimony on Senate Bill 158

Michael Nichols, The Esplanade Association

  • Thank you, Nick and thank you to the Committee for having us here today.
  • I am here to urge the Committee not to advance Senate Bill 158, which would effectively legislate beer and wine gardens out of existence in Massachusetts.
  • In a former role as Chief of Staff at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, I worked with Nick and Trillium to open the Trillium Garden three years ago.
  • Currently, I am Executive Director of the non-profit Esplanade Association which directly invests over $1 million of private support per year to revitalize, enhance, maintain and program the Charles River Esplanade in partnership with DCR and many stakeholders, including the tireless work, support and advocacy of our State Representative, Jay Livingstone.
  • Last summer we worked with DCR and Night Shift Brewing to open two family-friendly beer/wine/cider gardens along the Charles River which have each returned this year.
  • These locations and others like them have jointly brought hundreds of thousands of neighbors, workers, and tourists together in public spaces throughout the Commonwealth.
  • These activations result from public RFPs that invite breweries, wineries, restaurants, hospitality companies, and individual operators to put forth creative ideas for how to enliven our state’s public spaces.
  • Usually these activations result in adding sorely needed amenities – think bathrooms and bike racks – plus enhanced seating and gathering spaces for patrons and park visitors alike.
  • Further, this successful formula has created a new, important revenue stream to support the on-going care of our treasured – but under-resourced – public spaces.
  • This is certainly true of our relationship with Night Shift where a portion of every drink sold goes to DCR and a portion of every drink sold goes to the Esplanade Association – each to ensure improved care and maintenance of the park.
  • But for a non-profit like ours, the current law as written has allowed us to solve challenges on the Esplanade and attract new visitors.
  • Our Owl’s Nest beer garden exists in a concessions dessert, nearly a half-mile walk from the nearest restaurant and without another food or beverage concessionaire available in the park. Our audience of over 3 million annual visitors regularly cite the lack of places to get food and beverage in the park as an obstacle to their enjoyment of the Esplanade.
  • Enjoying a visit to the Owl’s Nest is part of a quintessential urban experience, providing respite from the city and an opportunity to enjoy nature and scores of free programming. It’s an experience we’ve worked hard to cultivate and ask that you not eliminate it through adoption of this legislation as written.
  • The issues facing the restaurant industry in Massachusetts are real, but they are not best addressed by stamping out popular alternatives that are embraced by thousands of state residents every day and support dozens of non-profits and small businesses.
  • I appreciate your time and ask that you not advance Senate Bill 158.


Arbor Day 2019 Tree Work

In support of Arbor Day 2019 (26 April), the Esplanade Association is pleased to partner with Barrett Tree Service East for a second consecutive year to improve soil conditions for the trees in the park. Soil compaction, which restricts oxygen, water, and nutrient availability to tree’s roots, is a serious concern relating to overall tree health for Esplanade trees.

As part of a new Tree Care Management and Succession Plan, developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Esplanade Association has increased focus on soil health to ensure a robust tree canopy for generations to come.

Barrett Tree Service East has generously donated a day of work to Air Spade the areas beneath 15-20 trees, loosening heavily compacted soil. As a result, the bicycle path from Clarendon Street to the PlaySpace will be redirected over the Clarendon and Fiedler Footbridges to the Island pathways. We thank all who plan to utilize the bike path on Arbor Day for their patience with this temporary diversion.

Are you interested in learning more about the Tree Care Management & Succession Plan? Please contact Jo-Ann Lovejoy at jlovejoy@esplanade.org or 617-227-0365 x405.


Photo by Pat Arroyo

Frost Fit Fest Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will bring hundreds to the Esplanade for Multi-Faceted Morning Workout

March 31 event headlined by Boston Marathon Survivor Adrianne Haslet will feature
a warm-up workout, fun run, and silent disco


(March 18, 2019) Boston, MA – An outdoor celebration event on the Esplanade will bring locals out of hibernation to enjoy a heart-pounding, energetic, and fun workout on Sunday, March 31, from 9:00am to noon. Frost Fit Fest, presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, will be filled with a series of workouts for all backgrounds and experience levels, including a warm-up hosted by the November Project, a fun run kicked-off by Adrianne Haslet, and a silent disco with a live DJ. The first 400 participants will receive a free Frost Fit Series tank top.


First at 9:00am, the November Project will lead a warm-up workout on the docks at Community Boating, Inc.. Community Boating opens officially April 1, but they are hosting a special regatta on March 31, so white sails will serve as a backdrop to the morning’s festivities.


Then, at 10:00am, Adrianne Haslet will kick-off a “3K” fun run that begins and ends at the Hatch Memorial Shell. Adrianne is an athlete, an internationally-ranked ballroom dancer, a corporate executive, and a triumphant Boston Marathon bombing survivor. After losing her leg, she has become a globally-recognized speaker, sharing her story of resiliency, strength, and courage in the face of adversity.


Finally, at 11:00am, a live DJ will lead a Silent Disco on the pathways around the Hatch Shell Lawn. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will serve as Presenting Sponsor of Frost Fit Fest, demonstrating the company’s commitment to helping the people of Massachusetts stay active and healthy all year long. Interested participants can find more information and register for the event at Esplanade.org/Fitness.


Frost Fit Fest is the final event in a first-of-its kind fitness series on the Esplanade– the Frost Fit Winter Series Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Every Saturday in February, instructors from the November Project led hundreds of participants through running loops, body-weight exercises, and other fun, energetic activities. These classes encouraged people to venture outside and experience the beauty of the Esplanade in winter while kicking off the year with regular workouts.


“We are proud to partner with the Esplanade Association on the Frost Fit Winter Series,” said Jeff Bellows, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts vice president of corporate citizenship and public affairs. “This series will remind people throughout Boston they can enjoy our city’s parks no matter the season and encourage them to safely exercise outside, even in the depths of winter. Participants will learn the value of year-round exercise, helping to build healthy habits that last a lifetime.”


“There is no better way to start your day than with fitness, and I can’t think of a more beautiful place to start the day than Boston’s own back yard, the Esplanade,” said Adrianne Haslet. “I can’t wait to see everyone there.”


“We are pleased to have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts as the Presenting Sponsor of this incredible event which concludes a unique winter series,” said Michael Nichols, executive director of the Esplanade Association. “This builds on our partnership around the Esplanade 5K Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, demonstrating our shared commitment to promoting outdoor fitness on the Esplanade throughout the year.”


Blue Cross is committed to helping Massachusetts residents lead healthy active lives. In 2017, the company and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation contributed $10.5 million in financial grants and pro-bono volunteer service to over 500 nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth. The company believes in addressing the inter-connectedness of healthy eating, active lifestyles, and positive environments, in order to influence behavior change and make a lasting impact.


The Esplanade Association is a nonprofit partner to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation for the Charles River Esplanade, working to revitalize, enhance, maintain, and program the park. Some of the Esplanade Association’s other initiatives on the Esplanade include designing and planting 13 ornamental garden beds, caring for over 1,700 trees, hosting free musical performances, engaging nearly 2,000 volunteers each year, and the Children in the Park program which brings children from camps like local YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs to the Esplanade to enjoy active play.



About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (bluecrossma.com) is a community-focused, tax-paying, not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Boston. We’re the trusted health plan for more than 25,000 Massachusetts employers, and are committed to working with others in a spirit of shared responsibility to make quality health care affordable. Consistent with our corporate promise to always put our 2.8 million members first, we’re rated among the nation’s best health plans for member satisfaction and quality. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.


About the Esplanade Association

The Esplanade Association (esplanadeassociation.org) is a 100% privately-funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain its natural green space, and build community in the park by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for everyone. Working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Esplanade Association is dedicated to improving the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside park.


For further information: Kelsey Pramik, Director of Programs and Outreach, Esplanade Association, 617-532-0942, kpramik@esplanadeassociation.org


For more information about Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, contact Amy McHugh, director of media relations 617 246 2311, amy.mchugh@bcbsma.com.


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Save the Dates for these Esplanade Events

During the month of February, buying our Esplanade Events Package gets you the lowest price ticket to all our signature events and other great benefits! Lock in your place at the Esplanade 5K Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the 9th Annual Summer Dock Party, and Moondance After Dark. Purchase the Esplanade Events Package!