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Chairs, traffic cones, ‘booby trapped’ paint cans? With Boston declaring a snow emergency amid a major nor’easter, so too came the space savers.

Rows of beach chairs lined up as parking spot savers in Boston on Tuesday.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Traffic cones. Beach chairs. Trash cans.

With the arrival of a blizzard Saturday that dumped nearly two dozen inches of snow in Boston and the declaration of the season’s first snow emergency by Mayor Michelle Wu, so too came space savers dotting Boston’s streets.

During snow emergencies, the city doesn’t allow parking on “major roads and arteries” that are normally fair game in order to keep streets clear for plows and emergency vehicles. So after residents shovel out their cars, they’ll often leave behind a random object to claim their spots.

Space savers have to be removed 48 hours after a snow emergency is lifted. That deadline was 6 a.m. on Wednesday after the snow emergency and parking ban were lifted Monday at 6 a.m.


An ironing board left as a parking saver in Boston.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

In addition to your typical trash can and orange traffic cones, some residents got creative with their space savers.

Jack Hanney, a South Boston resident, claimed to WCVB that he was saving a space with paint cans that were “booby trapped” and would cover anyone who tried to move them in paint.

“If you pick up one of the paint cans, you’re going to get covered in paint,” he told the station.

A broken snow shovel left in a bucket as a parking spot marker in Boston.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Hanney told WCVB that once he was done digging out his spot, he would only remove his outfitted space savers “when all the snow is gone.”

“This is not easy,” Hanney said. “This is work. If it’s not clear, there will be a space saver there.”

Aside from “booby traps” designed to cover offenders in paint, Boston residents used notes, heavy items, and other means to keep others away from their spots.

There’s even an Instagram account dedicated to tracking the objects Boston residents used to reserve their spots.

Space Savers of Boston chronicles how people are reserving their spots, inviting people to message the account with the best space savers they find.


Among the photos the account posted include a Mac computer system, a beach chair topped with a stuffed penguin, and a plastic children’s toy.

In a relatively mild example of the testy exchanges and warnings to other car owners that can arise with the practice of saving spots in a snow emergency, one of the posts even contains a veiled, lighthearted threat attached to a chair used to reserve a spot.

“You know that episode of Seinfeld where George parks in the handicap spot and causes a lady in a wheelchair to have an accident? Think of that if you park in the spot I shoveled. Thanks,” the note reads, complete with a smiley face.

The city continued to work to clear out after the nor’easter overnight into Wednesday morning. The Boston Public Works Department issued updates on Twitter on the agency’s progress, writing that crews worked to remove snow in Mattapan, Allston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, and East Boston.

Despite the city requiring the removal of space savers after 48 hours, not everyone strictly adheres.

Joe shoveled out his parking spot and used his home made Cookie Monster face as a parking saver.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

A scan of the city’s 311 database, where residents can report complaints to the city about problems ranging from litter, potholes, trash issues, and more, showed people reporting the use of space savers hours after they needed to be cleared.

People reported the continued use of space savers on Fawndale Road in Roslindale, Franklin Hill Avenue in Dorchester, Rockvale Circle in Jamaica Plain, among others.


The Saturday storm hammered Eastern Massachusetts, dropping 30 inches of snow in some parts of the state, knocking out power to more than 100,000 customers, and bringing blizzard conditions to some communities.

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.