Cambridge Prepares for Flood of Regatta Visitors

Head of the Charles
The Harvard men's lightweight team practices for the Head of the Charles Regatta on Thursday afternoon.

As hoards of rowing enthusiasts prepare to descend on Cambridge for the annual Head of the Charles Regatta, Square businesses and University staff are gearing up for the influx of visitors.

Celebrating its 53rd anniversary this year, the Head of the Charles Regatta, a prominent rowing competition, is expected to draw more than 1,700 volunteers, 11,000 athletes, and tens of thousands of spectators from around the world this weekend. Ahead of the event, local businesses are staffing up, and University administrators are tightening security.

Denise A. Jillson, Executive Director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said she is excited about the increased traffic the event brings to local shops, calling the regatta an “economic opportunity for the Square that we don't often get.”

But Head of the Charles means more than just an economic boon for Harvard Square, Jillson said.

“In terms of the overall impact on Cambridge, it's a source of community pride that we're part of this much larger global community, and that's a good reason to celebrate,” she added.

Marie C. Beauchamp Hurtado, an employee at the Harvard Coop, said this weekend and that of the Harvard-Yale football game are the two busiest of the year.

“Nothing else really compares. Maybe Harvard-Yale when it’s here, but Yale students don’t want to buy our gear, so it’s mostly the regatta,” said D. Brady Stevens ’19, an employee at the Harvard Shop.

Businesses are making preparations to deal with the increased crowds. Matthieu R. Nadeau, another employee at the Harvard Coop, said that the store is increasing staff and putting out Harvard Crew gear in preparation for the weekend.

Grafton Street Pub and Grill brings in more waitstaff for Head of the Charles than it would on a typical Saturday or Sunday, manager Morgan C. Carney said.

“You know you’re not going to get any break—you know it’s going to be start to finish. The past few years, I’ve worked open to close during the regatta. That’s the kind of day it is,” Carney said.

Several employees of Harvard Square businesses noted that this weekend may be particularly busy because of the forecasted warm weather.

“This is my fourteenth regatta year, and this looks like the best weather we’ve ever had,” Carney said.

The massive crowds inundating Cambridge are also cause for increased security precautions throughout town and across campus.

In an email to students Monday, the Freshman Dean’s Office said that restrictions will be placed on access to the Yard and freshman dorms on Friday and Saturday nights. Entry to the Yard will be restricted to Harvard ID holders from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., dorm common rooms will be locked, and freshmen must register overnights guests with the University.

According to the event’s website, security officers will be at the event site Friday and Saturday evenings.

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