If you wake up on Saturday, April 8th and head down toward Bedford Center for a cup of coffee and happen to see militia marching in formation, there is no need to run back home, grab the kids and take cover. Nor is there reason to question the wisdom of your choices from the night before. It is just Bedford’s 53rd Annual Liberty Pole Capping ceremony!
If you are new to the Bedford area, you might not know how serious we take Patriot’s Day, from the marathon to people heading to Lexington Green at 4am, to visits to nearby North Bridge and other celebrations. Bedford, Concord and Lexington are the epicenter of the start of the American Revolution. And Bedford’s Liberty Pole Capping Celebration heralds in the season!
So now that you know you don’t have to run for cover, you might be wondering what a Pole Capping celebration is and a bit about its origins.
Each year, the Bedford Minuteman Company converges on Willson Park in Bedford to commemorate the courageous spirit of the patriots who sparked the American Revolution. The ceremony, which starts at the Bedford Common at 10am and marches up Great Road to Willson Park includes marching militia, fife and drum music and black-powder musket shots. While all of this is reason to get up and head to Bedford Center, the highlight of the day is the raising of a tall wooden pole and its subsequent ascension of some rabble-rousing members up the pole. All done in front of British Regulars from His Majesty’s 10th Regiment. Of course, the British storm the ceremony and arrest the scoundrels, much to the delight of bystanders.
The Pole Capping reenacts a practice in Colonial America over dissatisfaction of the English government. This act of defiance began in Boston when the Sons of Liberty would meet at the base of a large elm tree and raise a pole above the tree with a red flag signaling that the members should meet. It soon became a symbol of Colonial support against British tyranny.
While we may not be as legendary as Lexington or Concord, we still had our fair share of patriots and can lay claim to being the first of many events celebrating the start of the American Revolution.
Wondering where Willson Park is? It is just north of Suzanne and Company's office on Great Road. At the intersection of Great Road, Concord Road and North Road, you will see a small triangle, that is Willson Park!
Please note that Great Road will be closed for this event!
Stay tuned for more historical blogs in the coming weeks.