Bedford Minuteman Company’s Youngest Member Prepares to Climb the Pole

April 3, 2024
Here is Ryan Ouellette at the Paul Revere House. He will be climbing the liberty pole in Bedford on Saturday. Courtesy photo

The honor of climbing the liberty pole to climax Saturday morning’s colonial commemoration at Willson Park belongs to the newest member of the Bedford Minutemen.

Ryan Ouellette, 23, says he is a “big history buff.” He is a history major as an undergraduate at Wheaton College and is also a historical interpreter on the staff of the Paul Revere House in Boston’s North End.

“I’ve always been interested in living history and re-enactment,” he said in a recent interview.

The 60th annual pole-capping, a tribute to the Sons of Liberty’s symbolic defiance of the Crown, is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday with a parade of colonial marchers from the Common to Willson Park, the triangle where Concord and North Roads converge. (Fun fact: the third side of the triangle is called Park Row.)

Following several speakers, Ouellette will be in the spotlight, scaling the liberty pole while wearing the red stocking cap that he will attach to the top.

Ouellette has been a local Minuteman since late last year. He said, “At a Minuteman meeting, one of the members suggested I might want to climb the pole. I said, ‘I’ll give it a try.’” 

After a couple of practice runs, Ouellette said he thinks he has the technique. “You kind of lock your legs around the pole, and get a really good start and not lose your momentum.” 

The descent can be unnerving, as “the pole surface is rough. But gravity is on your side,” he said.

The ropes course in high school came with a safety harness, Ouellette recalled, and without one “it’s more intimidating.”

Ouellette moved to Bedford with his family in 2010, and he said his interest in history blossomed as a Bedford High School student. Although the Bedford Minutemen do not focus on re-enactment, “I always saw them in parades growing up,” Ouellette said. “They are a part of living history.” 

He said he was recruited by Dr. Roy Kring during a visit to the Job Lane House last summer. “I hope more people my age start joining,” he said. “It’s good to keep the tradition alive. And it’s fun to be around so many people who care about this so much.”

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