Hear ye! Hear ye! Alexandria has a new Town Crier.
Five contestants performed before a panel of judges assembled in City Council Chambers Thursday afternoon to become the City's new bearer of 17th and 18th century news to residents and visitors alike. The winner replaces John I. Yagerline who died in April after having served in that capacity since 1998.
William North-Rudin, a native of upstate New York and Del Ray resident since 1980, received the majority of first place votes and the ultimate approval of Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille. North-Rudin heads Alexandria's Volunteer Bureau and is attending Marymount University's graduate school to become a third grade teacher,
"I think its a cool job in a great city," North-Rudin said in explaining why he wanted the non-paying, sometimes demanding job of recreating the colonial era messenger of news and daily announcements. "I'm just thrilled at the prospect of serving in this capacity and am looking forward to performing my role at upcoming events," he said.
Joining North-Rudin in the contests were John D. Curd, Jr., Vann-Di Galloway, Douglas Meick, and the first woman to seek the position, Kamela Jones. "No woman has ever held the post of Town Crier in the 256 years of Alexandria history," Jones said when asked why she wanted the job.
"It would be an honor to serve the City and particularly to be the first woman Town Crier. And no man is able to talk as long as any woman," she said.
Although length of vociferousness was not a selection criteria, the judges did take note of quality of projected voice, ability to keep an audience's attention, content of prepared material, ability to project a pleasant, attractive, engaging personality, and whether the one selected could be the best representative of the City.
Upon entering the Chamber clanging the traditional handbell and commanding attention by shouting "Hear Ye, Hear Ye," each contestant made a short presentation from a script they had written dealing with possible events or actions that a Town Crier would be relating to the people. Following that they each participated in a personal interview conducted by the judges who inquired as to the background of the participant and why they wanted the post.
There are only 13 cities nationally with reenactor town criers.
And, as Euille told the panel of judges prior to the contest, "This position is very important to the City because of this city's uniqueness. The person selected has to have the flexibility to serve at a wide array of functions."
FOLLOWING THE SELECTION, Euille thanked and congratulated the assembled five contestants. "I was touched by the presentations and the quality of each of you. Any one of you would make a great Town Crier," he said.
Of the winner, Euille said, "Mr. North-Ruden was engaging, had a good command in front of a group and has a very pleasant personality. He will make a fine representative of the City."
Ceremonial duties of the Town Crier include reading proclamations, announcing upcoming events and acting as a master of ceremonies at special events, according to Jean Taylor Federico, director, Office of Historic Alexandria under which the panel of judges operated. During the Colonial era citizens relied on the Town Crier for daily information.
Members of the judging panel included representatives from various Alexandria boards, commissions, and civic organizations. Philip Brooks, City of Alexandria 250th Anniversary Commission, served as the panel's foreman.