Exciting News!

Highlights from the Official Boathouse Row Relighting Ceremony!

by Grace Romo on March 11, 2024

On Thursday, March 7, Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation hosted the official Boathouse Row Relighting Ceremony at the Fairmount Fish Ladder on MLK Drive. 

The event included music, glowsticks, food trucks, and a clear view of the iconic Boathouse Row. First lit in 1979, Boathouse Row went dark in March 2023 so the lighting system could receive a major glow-up. Fairmount Park Conservancy partnered with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, The Lighting Practice, and the Schuylkill Navy to replace and upgrade the existing light system due to ongoing maintenance issues. 

Thursday’s speaking program featured Fairmount Park Conservancy CEO Maura McCarthy, City Representative Jazelle Jones, Councilmember Jeffery Young Jr., Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr., Councilmember Rue Landau, Councilmember Nina Ahmad, Bonnie Mueller from the Schuylkill Navy, and the new Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner, Susan Slawson. 

“Thank you for supporting a project that not only illuminates the boathouses, but also shines a light on our city’s history, our waterways, and our fantastic parks,” said Maura McCarthy, Ph.D.

“We as a community are committed to the ongoing work and effort to continue to call people to this river, to call people to this great Fairmount Park,” said Bonnie Mueller from the Schuylkill Navy. 

Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. said, “Wherever I go around the world, I know I’m home when I see Boathouse Row. And for me, that’s everything.” 

After a series of thoughtful remarks celebrating the local significance and enduring legacy of Boathouse Row and its lights, the speakers counted down to the official relighting at 7 p.m. 

The evening also featured a customized five-minute light show demonstrating the capabilities of the new lights. The upgraded lights have 16 million potential color combinations and can dance, sparkle, and fade along the boathouses while highlighting the unique architectural features of the historic structures with different colors. 

The array and lighting system were designed by The Lighting Practice. The custom lighting materials came from Nanometer. The lights themselves were installed by Eagle Industrial Electric, a member of IBEW Local 98

This new project enhanced the entire system to reduce future maintenance needs and allow the Boathouse Row’s lights to stay on for years to come.

We are so thankful to everyone who joined us for last week’s incredible event. Fairmount Park Conservancy is honored to be a steward of this incredible landmark. 

Click here to learn more about the Boathouse Row Lights.

Did you know that the Boathouse Row Lights can be booked for special events, holidays, sponsored shows, and individual requests? Pricing depends on the complexity and duration of the display, and the fees go back into the ongoing maintenance of the Boathouse Row lights. 

For more information, click here

Special thanks to the Joanna McNeil Trust and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

Photography by Albert Yee.