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Boston Swan Boats return to the Public Gardens

The front of the swan boats sitting in the Public Garden.
The front of the swan boats sitting in the Public Garden. The boats will open for the season on April 15. HALEY ALVAREZ-LAUTO/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

The Boston Swan Boats will open for their 146th season on April 15 with Mayor Michelle Wu taking the first ride at 11:00 a.m.

The Swan Boats have been a Boston tradition since Robert Paget introduced the catamaran-style boats to the Public Gardens in the 1870s, according to the Swan Boats website. Lyn Paget, the current owner and member of the Paget family, said the business has been in her family since it started.

“It’s just really a peaceful 12- to 15-minute ride along the waterway, where you are seeing beautiful horticulture and trees and weeping willows,” Paget said.

Paget said the sizes and amount of boats have increased and can hold 15 to 20 people per boat. The ride is also at a cheap price point, with the charge being less than $5 for each age group.

The Swan Boats are not just a tourist attraction: They serve many Boston locals. Paget said a lot of people have shared memories they have tied to the boats, whether it be taking a weekly lunch break or riding them every Mother’s Day.

“It’s pretty special to hear people’s stories and memories, whether they’re Boston local, or visitors, or maybe have a history or a tie to Boston, and they’re just visiting back here and reliving a memory,” Paget said.

Jessie Metcalf, a graduate student at Emerson College, said her college experience started on the Swan Boats.

“I went with my mom because she was dropping me off at college,” Metcalf said. “It’s a cool, unique thing about Boston. That’s something people want to do.”

Emily Martin, a Boston resident, said she enjoyed taking her friends and family on the boats when they visited.

“It was very easy to ride around, and it was actually a very peaceful way to see the garden, which I sit in all the time,” Martin said. “I would definitely recommend it to people who live in the Boston area.”

Since their beginnings in 1877, not much has changed. Paget said the goal has been to maintain the same experience for visitors and locals since it began.

“Bostonians, I think, are very proud of the things that don’t change in their city,” Paget said. “We have grandparents who can ride the boats now with their grandkids, and they had the same experience when they were a grandchild.

After the opening this Saturday, the boats will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until the end of June, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Labor Day.

“It’s just a really fun, relaxing thing to do when you’re doing other stuff in the city,” Paget said. “Or even if you’re not [and] you just want to come in and take a ride.”

CORRECTION: The headline originally said the boats will be in Boston Common, but will actually be in the Public Gardens.

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