Students and Locals Gather for Head of the Charles

Head of the Charles Regatta 2012
Ann-Marie Y Barrett, Jacob S. Beech, Bridget R Irvine, and Francis G. Thumpasery

The banks of the Charles bustled with activity this weekend as Harvard hosted the 48th annual Head of the Charles Regatta, the world’s largest two-day rowing event.

As in the past, the regatta attracted students, families, tourists, and locals to enjoy the festivities and watch the races.

Worcester resident Caitlin Duggan said she attended to take advantage of the pleasant weather, while Boston local Lauren Ferrante dropped by to reminisce about her own rowing days. Cambridge citizen Amy Belford came out to cheer on members of her book club.

Eager spectators gathered in a variety of places to observe the races. Some paid a small admission fee to watch from Reunion Village, a series of tents situated on the Boston side of the river that included food and refreshments and play-by-play color commentary of the races. Others opted to watch from higher vantage points on the bridges, or from leisurely perches along the riverbank.

Visitors also spent their afternoons strolling down Memorial Drive, where vendors sold passers-by gyros, french fries, caramel apples, chowder in bread bowls, and soda pop in old-fashioned silver mugs. Several companies set up tents to distribute free samples, attracting long lines of tasters. Sabra offered free tastes of their hummus, Lightlife handed out free veggie burgers, and 5-Hour Energy distributed free bottles of its new Breast Cancer Awareness-themed drink—Pink Lemonade.

In anticipation of the hectic weekend and the influx of visitors, additional security measures were taken to ensure the safety of Harvard students. Many gates to Harvard Yard were locked Friday and Saturday nights, and entry to the Yard was restricted to individuals with a Harvard ID who were permitted a maximum of one guest.

“It was only a minor inconvenience,” said Matthew E. Lee ’16 of the heightened security measures. “The guards were courteous and didn’t take too long to check IDs.”

The regatta, which took nearly 3 months and over 1,400 volunteers to organize, has become a mainstay of the Harvard experience.

“The Head of the Charles Regatta quickly became one of my favorite parts of every fall semester after my freshman year,” said Shaira Bhanji ’14. “The scene of boats racing along the expansive Charles surrounded by beautiful autumn colors on both sides is picturesque, and the excitement is contagious.”

Nicole A. Golden ’16, member of the Women’s Novice Crew Team, also appreciated the excitement in the air this weekend.

“The electrifying atmosphere down by the river really [made] me look forward to the opportunity to race next year and to continue attending Regattas like this,” she said.

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