Annual Liberty Pole-Capping Happening on April 6 at Willson Park

March 28, 2024
Members of the Bedford Minuteman Company led the way to Willson Park at the 2023 Pole Capping. Courtesy photo by Chris Gittins

Disregard the calendar, the clock, and the conditions. Spring arrives in Bedford on Saturday, April 6.

That is the morning of the annual capping of the Bedford Minutemen’s liberty pole at Willson Park, where Concord and North roads diverge. The parade along The Great Road from the Common begins at 10:30 a.m., followed by the ceremony. 

Bedford’s pole-capping began shortly after the Minuteman company was reconstituted in 1964. The event is always the Saturday before the Patriots Day weekend, opening the historical commemorative season in New England. 

The Minutemen will carry the liberty pole from Fitch Tavern at 12 The Great Road, where historians say the original fighting unit had something to eat before marching to the North Bridge area in Concord to confront British troops.  

The William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps will accompany the marchers to the park playing a colonial lament, said Chuck Hacala, who chairs the company’s Liberty Committee.

Colonial marchers from about a dozen area towns and southern New Hampshire are expected to participate in the parade and watch as a new Bedford Minuteman, Ryan Oulette, shinnies up the wooden pole and affixes a red woolen cap to the top.

Speaking from the reviewing stand will be Select Board Chair Shawn Hanegan, who as honorary captain will wear a tricorn hat with a white cockade; Town Historian Sharon McDonald; and state Rep. Kenneth Gordon. Jim Ringwood, a former captain, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Another highlight will be the presentation of the Marion Bryan Citizenship Award to Bedford High School senior Elena Protasowicki.

The Minutemen’s website describes the colonial pole-capping as “defiance to the British crown” exemplifying a “spirit of liberty.” Beginning in 1765, it relates, the Sons of Liberty frequently met at a large elm tree in Boston. “From the trunk of the tree was fastened a pole which rose far above the topmost branch, and a red flag floated from it to call together the fearless members of the organization.”

The re-enactment of that defiance is the highlight of the event, and upon his descent, Ouellette may have to deal with Col. Paul O’Shaughnessey, quartermaster of His Majesty’s Tenth Regiment of Foot in America.

Peter Secor, captain of the Bedford Minutemen, said pole-capping “is a labor of love for the company. There is a real investment of the members to make this a big thing for the town and for the re-enactors.”

The Minutemen serve lunch to all of the visiting colonial units at the high school, and then travel to Meriam’s Corner on Lexington Road in Concord for the annual early afternoon re-enactment there. “All of the companies tell us this is one of their favorite events,” said Hacala.

Minuteman companies in area towns are starting to expand their activities and membership in anticipation of the 250th anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution, Secor noted. “Over the next year, the celebration of the battle and of the country will lead to bigger things in the community.”

“It would be nice to see Bedford citizens on the street, cheering us on,” said Hacala. “This is a special thing in our town and people should take advantage of it. This is strictly a colonial event. There aren’t vendors on the street selling balloons.”

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