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Swan Boats: Guaranteed Happiness in Boston

Boston Swan Boats

The graceful Swan Boats glide through the lagoon

You know something’s a good activity when you go into it feeling more bitter than a Nuclear Sour Warhead Candy, but leave grinning with happiness… despite your best efforts to stay crabby! Boston’s famous Swan Boats are just such a glorious attraction.

Boston Swan Boats

The swan’s stately, arched neck emerges from beneath the bridge

For the past three weeks, I have been teaching English at a lovely ESL school for college-aged and adult newcomers to America. It’s been awesome! Few things are better than a room full of motivated folks from Saudi Arabia, Korea, Venezuela, China, Colombia, Cape Verde, Bahrain, and beyond, each eager to learn more grammar and vocabulary than the day before!

Multicultural group

Our multicultural group walking through the Public Garden to the Swan Boats!

Anyway, last Friday we all trekked the two blocks down the street from the language school to the Public Garden (what a great location the school has!) for our monthly Friday field trip. To be honest, we were dragging a bit from the fatigue of the week and the broil of the sun. We paid our $2.75 each (BARGAIN!!!) and schlumped aboard the boats, reeking of sunscreen.

Public Garden

Few places are better for young kids to frolic than Boston’s Public Garden!

But, ‘lo! What energy through yonder tired body breaks? (That was a “Romeo and Juliet” allusion, by the way.) As our surly teenage Swan bicyclist pumped his legs to make the paddle move, and as the dark lagoon began to shimmer with our wake, and as the breeze rustled the thick trees, and as the ducks swimming by blew us kisses, well… we began to feel GREAT! Laughter rang through the flower-scented air and camera flashes snapped every pose possible on the five-foot wide boat. Not a soul could resist the rising joy!

Boston swan boats

A sleepy swan bicyclist snoozes on her swan

Getting hungry now for some Swan Boat FACTS? Of course you are! Here goes:

These graceful boats were first launched over a hundred years ago, in 1877, because a certain Robert Paget loved a Medieval German story about a knight who crossed a river on a vessel pulled by a swan to save his luscious lady love, Elsa!

Each Swan Boat can fit about 18 people and weighs around 2,000 pounds.

No, the Swan Boats are not for sale to you, you greedy fool. (Yes, these are actual facts from the official Swan Boat Website… just worded differently.) No, you cannot have your wedding atop a Swan Boat. Yes, you may bring your raging party onto the Swan Boat for the official length of the ride, but you may NOT continue your carousing on the vessel after your fifteen minutes are up.

Want a job? Get some patience. Operating the bicycle paddle inside the Swan bellies is such a popular gig that there is often a year long waiting list for applicants.

And thus concludes our Swan Boat fact sheet for the day.

The moral of the story is this: If you find yourself in the fair city of Boston at any (non-Winter) point, please oh please DO mosey to the Public Garden and buy your ultra-cheap ticket to happiness!

Boston sunset
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