Metro

Frog Pond to close Saturday because of ‘free speech’ rally

According to a post on the Frog Pond’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, the pool and surrounding areas will remain closed for the entire day.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/file 2016
According to a post on the Frog Pond’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, the pool and surrounding areas will remain closed for the entire day.

The Boston Common Frog Pond, a popular splash park and fountain for children, will be closed Saturday because of a controversial rally scheduled at the nearby Parkman Bandstand.

According to a post on the Frog Pond’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, the pool and surrounding areas will remain closed for the entire day, as attendees of the so-called “Boston Free Speech” rally descend on the public park.

“Notice! Saturday, August 19, 2017: Frog Pond will be closed for the day,” the post said.

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The Frog Pond spray pool, which is operated by the Skating Club of Boston, is typically open daily, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., during the summertime and is a draw for families and tourists.

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Doug Zeghibe, executive director of the club, told the Globe they decided to shut down “due to an abundance of caution.”

He said that recent events in Charlottesville, Va., where a woman was killed as white nationalists and counterprotesters clashed on the streets, prompted the decision.

“We have full faith in the Park Rangers and Boston police, but I think what you saw in Virginia is just evidence that you never know what might happen,” he said. “Random people can get injured — sometimes fatally.”

Zeghibe added, “These days you can’t exercise too much caution.”

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Saturday’s event, organized by the Boston Free Speech Coalition, is expected to draw both counterprotesters and a heavy police presence to the park.

Some speakers have dropped out of the planned rally, but at least two right-wing extremists, including a Clinton conspiracy theorist and a founder of a group dubbed by hate watchdogs as an “Alt-Right Fight Club,” will still address the crowd.

Commissioner William B. Evans and Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Wednesday issued a permit to organizers of the rally but set down “zero tolerance” rules: No bats. No sticks. No backpacks.

“If anyone gets out of control — at all — it will be shut down,” Walsh said this week.

Ryan Woods, a spokesman for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said that “almost everything is closed” at the park Saturday because of the rally, including the Earl of Sandwich and the Swan Boats at the adjacent Public Garden.

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Woods said the parks department also asked this week that vendors not set up shop on the Common amid the protest.

He said getting vendor carts into the park requires the use of vehicles, which will be banned from entering Boston Common Saturday.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear. Travis Andersen and Meghan E. Irons of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.