Confessions of a Town Crier

Jolly old You-Know-Who and Me

There are lots of holiday traditions, but I have a rather unusual one.

I am a town crier.

Once every year for 9 of the past 10 years, I’ve put on the Dickens era hat and cape, with matching scarf, carry my scroll and ring a bell at an area shopping center that will remain nameless.  Put enough energy into it or just out and out ask me and I’ll tell you which one, but for the sake of search engines, let’s just keep it between us. The further you’ll read this, the more you’ll understand why.

The routine is simple.  Show up around 6pm and get dressed in the outfit, run around saying things like “Here ye, here ye, Santa Claus arrives at 7 o’clock.”  Then at 7pm, go up on the main stage with the local caroling group…address the crowd, ask the singers to belt out a song that might encourage Santa to show up, and is if by magic, Santa comes flying in on his lighted sleigh and then proceeds to hand out candy canes to all the kids in attendance.  Yep, pretty darn simple.

However, those of us associated with this event for as many years as we’ve been doing it KNOW that SOMETHING will go south.  It’s almost an unofficial tradtion.

Years past included such things as our aging Santa getting up to talk to the crowd and reflecting back on his days during World War 2.  There was the year that someone illegally parked in a spot that had been blocked off…which prevented Santa’s sleigh from landing…and we had to call in a tow truck in order to allow Santa to land.  At one point, I lead the crowd in the cheer, “Tow that car! Tow that car!”

There were the years of bitter cold and pouring rains, microphones that didn’t cooperate and lights going on when they weren’t supposed to, etc. But this year’s challenges, were an all-time classic.

Now I’m assuming that the younger “believers” are not taking time out of their busy lives to read my blog, so here’s the deal.  On the website, the shopping center had posted that the Grinch would be there…along with Santa’s reindeer.  So, the second I started ringing the bell, people came up assuming I would know the answer to the question: “Where are they?”

I called the owner and she reported that the Grinch was having dinner, but she’d be back out there again soon.  However, the response to the reindeer question would be a little more challenging.  It turns out that one of the reindeer had DIED the previous day…and the rest of them had been put into quarantine.  Not exactly the thing young ears want to hear, so the rest of the night, I generally would say that “Santa needed to take them away for some special training.”  I was also told that our Santa (who had been doing this for 30 years) felt as if he wanted to say something about the dead reindeer and was asked to avoid letting him talk about it.  Aw, so there’s tonight’s challenge.

However, for all the challenges, this year’s celebration might have been the best yet.  Santa DID get up in front of the crowd, but as my Flip camera will attest, I steered him in the direction of just saying “Merry Christmas” and getting back to handing out those candy canes.

Why do I do this every year?  The smiles on people’s faces as they explain to their kids what the heck a town crier is.  The laughs I get from jokes like: “Here ye, here ye, Santa Claus arrives at 7 o’clock, 6 central and mountain” or “Sports and weather next!”  One of the big bennies is standing next to Santa as the kids come through to get their candy cane.  To see the look on those young faces, some a little scared, others in amazement, pretty much is my kickoff into the holiday spirit.

So, folks, I’m there already.  Merry Christmas to you and yours and even the ones you’re buying on time!

Here ye, here ye…

Tim Hunter

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