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Postponed Greenway celebration disappoints parents

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  April 25, 2012 04:25 PM

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(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)

Friends Alba-Lis Routhier-Gomez, 4 1/2; Emma Jae Zompa Reilly, 4 1/2; and Sophie Caulder, 3, rode the carousel at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway on Tuesday.

Some local families came to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway on Tuesday expecting free carousel rides, cotton candy, and a musical performance. What they found instead was a celebration postponed with no explanation.

The Greenway Conservancy moved the carousel’s grand opening up three weeks, to May 17, but families at the carousel on Tuesday evening said they’d received no notice.

While the calendar on the conservancy’s website showed the change, a conservancy e-mail newsletter from April 12, which appears to be the most recent, still listed April 24 as the opening date. And the conservancy’s Twitter feed, updated 16 times between April 17 and 24, made no mention of the rescheduling.

A public relations consultant employed by the conservancy said Wednesday that the decision to reschedule had been made early this week, based on a weather forecast that showed low temperatures and a possibility of rain Tuesday night. She said the change was only announced on the conservancy's website, and the carousel operator had not been notified.

“I think that the error, frankly, was that we didn’t send another e-blast out explaining that the event had been delayed,” said Lisa Quackenbush, the consultant. “To be fair, the situation wasn’t rectified as nicely as it could have been because [the carousel operator] didn’t know we were planning this event in the first place.”

At the carousel on Tuesday, Joe, an employee of the American Carousel Company who declined to give his last name, said he found out at the last minute and that his contact at the conservancy told him it had sent out an email notifying parents of the postponement.

“I don’t know what to tell you because I wasn’t told about it at all,” he said just before 6 p.m., the time the celebration was scheduled to begin. “I wasn’t informed until just now.”

Joe said the carousel had been in place and open to the public since April 6. He was able to give rides to paying customers on Tuesday, but said that when he called the carousel company and said “people are pretty upset,” he was told that he could not offer free rides because the company issues the conservancy only a set number of free ride tickets.

“I’m going to need a bulletproof vest by the end of the night,” he said.

While no violence was evident, some of those gathered near the carousel on Tuesday were vocally disappointed. North End resident Judith Henager said she was let down when she didn't see balloons and food when she arrived at the park.

Henager’s friend Remy Valeros had praise for the greenway and the conservancy generally, but she said the organization could have made a greater effort to spread the word about the postponement.

“I think this is something [that shows] that they still need to improve their communication,” Valeros said. “But they’re doing an excellent job.”

But a group of parents who had brought their 3- and 4-year-old daughters from the KinderCare Learning Center in the North End said the postponement didn’t bother them — they didn’t even know the grand opening had been scheduled for Tuesday.

“We come here all the time anyway, so we would have been here even if it hadn’t been the grand opening,” said Mark Routhier, a North End resident.

“We ask our moms every day, but sometimes they say no,” explained his daughter, Alba-Lis Routhier-Gomez, 4 1/2.

Update: The Greenway Conservancy has announced that complimentary carousel tickets will be issued to families who came to the park on Tuesday unaware of the postponement. For more information, contact the conservancy at programs@rfkgc.org.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremycfox@gmail.com.
Follow Jeremy C. Fox on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
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Follow the North End on Twitter: @YourNorthEnd.

carousel kids 2.jpg

(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)

Several locdal families enjoyed the carousel despite the postponement.

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