As the sun set at the Smith Family Waterfront in the Seaport Saturday afternoon, hundreds of children and their parents waited for Santa Claus to arrive via boat to light up Martin’s Park in all of its holiday season glory.
The holiday-spirited, high-energy festivity reminded Dorchester resident Denise Richard of how she and her husband, Bill, would bring their children to holiday lighting events across the city.
The event marked the second annual holiday lighting display at the park, named in honor of Denise and Bill’s son Martin Richard, who died at age 8 in the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. It’s a tradition the Richard family said they’re elated to see begin for all children.
“It is pretty spectacular,” Denise Richard said. “It’s wonderful seeing so many kids here, so many little kids here thrilled to see Santa and the ship lighting up. It’s really fun to see this take off.”
Instead of lighting up a holiday tree, the park’s massive wooden play ship gets lit up in blue and white tube lights. The lights spread more than 1,500 feet across the park.
The park, which opened in 2019, is located next to Boston Children’s Museum, a venue where Martin’s younger sister, Jane, said she and her family would frequent before her brother’s death.
“Having this park right next to somewhere we always went to as a kid is surreal,” said Jane, who lost a leg during the bombing. “I still get to enjoy this space and keep my brother’s memory alive.”
The holiday season has kicked off across Boston, with many city neighborhoods hosting tree lightings. Copley Square will be lit up on Monday before trees glow up at the Boston Common and at Commonwealth Avenue Mall on Thursday.
Mayor Michelle Wu begins her holiday trolley tour of city neighborhoods next weekend.
Warm temperatures combined with the now-open Snowport, the Seaport’s annual holiday market, brought out a much larger crowd to Martin Park’s than for its first holiday celebration last year, city Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ryan Woods said.
“It’s important that everybody knows the importance of the season,” Woods said. “It’s all about helping others, good will and putting smiles on people’s faces. We love having everybody out and seeing them light up when these trees light up.”
Across the city, Framingham resident Ernest Poole volunteered for the Roslindale Village Main Street, capturing photos of the neighborhood’s holiday tree lighting event at Adams Park.
The festivity featured dogs flaunting their holiday’s finest costumes, with Fiona, a 10-year-old Chinese crested Maltese, the best dressed, as a present underneath a Christmas tree.
“It’s bringing everyone together,” Poole said of the event which drew roughly 100 attendees. “If you look around, it’s just so welcoming to see everyone together, enjoying these moments.”