By Ginger DeShaney

Moakley Park will be bursting with color in the spring.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, volunteers planted more than 880 daffodil, tulip, and allium bulbs. The plantings were part of the monthly cleanup sessions at the park. 

“We want people to learn, we want people to play, we want people to be invested, we want everyone to feel like they can have a piece of Moakley,” said Jenn Meakem, Community Engagement Specialist for Boston Harbor Now.

“Moakley Park is a really big priority for Boston Harbor Now and the city. It’s 60 acres of waterfront parkland.”

The Make Moakley Yours campaign, a joint effort between Boston Harbor Now and Boston Parks & Recreation, is designed to encourage people to get to know the park.

According to, the city is ensuring that it is ready for the effects of a changing climate. Improved Boston parks and open spaces have the potential to:

  • protect us from climate change;
  • improve our day-to-day lives;
  • make Boston’s many varied communities more resilient, healthy, safe, and vibrant.

“Moakley Park is such an amazing resource and space for so many people but it really is consistently not heard of or not necessarily thought of,” Jenn said.

Moakley Park will undergo at least three phases of renovation. “Part of Boston Harbor Now’s job is to help increase engagement in the park throughout every single one of those phases,” Jenn said. 

“We want to get volunteers invested in this space … When people come and pick up trash or plant something, they are then very connected to the space. They have put sweat into a space and they can always be proud of that.”

The Make Moakley Yours cleanups, which started in March, have been attracting between 25 and 50 volunteers each month, ranging from college students and families to other nonprofits and some of the sports teams that use the park, as well as candidates and elected officials. “It’s been a really lovely monthly event,” Jenn said.

About 40 volunteers gathered Saturday. The original plan was to plant more than 1,000 bulbs in the park. But according to Rebecca Smerling, Boston Harbor Now’s Director of Programs, a supply chain issue affected the shipment. The bulbs they were supposed to get are still on a container ship, so Rebecca had to search high and low for bulbs for the project. She had to go all the way to Bedford to buy bulbs from a garden center.

After getting guidance on how to plant the bulbs, the volunteers got to work. They all said the planting wasn’t difficult.

Amanda Brown attends Boston University and is part of a community service sorority. “I love doing things outdoors,” she said. 

Emily Wilczewski, also a member of BU’s community service sorority, said she had heard good things about this volunteer opportunity from others. “I like being outside,” she said.

Adena Masliansky also likes being outdoors. She enjoys opportunities to be a part of something bigger and to meet people. 

Ashley Rapp, a Northeastern University student, got an email from school about the cleanup. “I just wanted to do it,” she said. Ashley is in the environmental club at NU and this opportunity was right up her alley.

Barth Kabra is also an NU student. “I’ve never been to the park before,” so he signed up. 

NU students Alyssa Goldstein and Daniel Maddox were planting bulbs with Shannon Fairley-Pittman, who is director of Global Student Life at NU.

“It’s really cool; it’s fun,” said Alyssa. Added Daniel, “It’s a great way to feel connected to nature.”

“This park is the heart of South Boston,” Rebecca said. “It connects the Harbor to the South Boston neighborhood.”

She said the volunteers usually get thank yous from people who see them working in the park.

The monthly cleanups will resume in the spring but Boston Harbor Now is planning special events in the coming months. To stay informed about upcoming events, subscribe to the Boston Harbor Now newsletter at

“We all have a space to work and take care of … and Moakley is going to be incredibly important,” Jenn said. “The more people who care and can get involved, the better. [Moakley is] for all of us.”