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Hear Ye! Hear Ye! A Farewell to the Town Crier

by Rebecca M. Alvin

“I wanted to leave at a high,” says Ken Lonergan, better known as Provincetown’s Town Crier. Lonergan has held this position for 13 years, but he recently announced this will be his last season greeting visitors and locals alike in his Pilgrim-era costume, ringing his bell and projecting out his trademark welcome: “Hear ye! Hear ye! All is well in Provincetown because YOU are here!”

“It was the hardest decision, but once I made it, I made it,” explains the 74-year-old Lonergan, citing age and health concerns given the heavy, black clothing he wears as he spends long hours walking up and down Commercial Street in the relentless sun of summer.

Provincetown Portuguese Festival parade, 2019.
Photo by Rebecca M. Alvin

While town criers have been in Provincetown on and off since the 1600s, Lonergan’s exuberant message that brightened the eyes and lifted the hearts of the masses in town each summer season is his own invention. He recalls the way it came about easily, as it is one of the many memories he’ll carry with him wherever he finds himself next. It was one day when he was greeting hundreds of ferry passengers coming into town from MacMillan Pier and he saw a hunched over couple, probably in their nineties, slowly making their way into town.

“It took forever to get them [here], but when they hit the end [of the pier] here, they had visors on and I didn’t want to scare them, so I went underneath their visors and I looked in their eyes, and I went, ‘All is well in Provincetown because you’re here!’ And they lit up and I knew that was it. And that became my calling card.”

Ken taking time for a photo on the street Fourth of July, 2019.
Photo: Dan McKeon

The couple was here to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary because they had met and married in Provincetown. Lonergan says he’ll never forget it. He told the crowd of people about the couple, and everyone sang “Happy Anniversary” and made them feel how special they were. “If I have any gift, it’s my mother’s spontaneity,” he says. Seeing the expression on their faces and getting to talk with them, he says, “filled me up. And I’ve had so many of those experiences.”

Lonergan’s story, the reason he’s here in town, echoes many similar ones. Provincetown is where he came to be himself. In a 2018 short film by Mike Syers, Because You’re Here, which screened in the Provincetown International Film Festival last year, we learn that Lonergan did not come out of the closet as a gay man until he was 50, after a long marriage to a woman he loved. And actually, in the film he says it was his wife who encouraged him to go to Provincetown “to be gay.”

He arrived here 21 years ago but only started working as the Town Crier for the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum (PMPM) in 2007, coming into town, welcoming visitors in Lopes Square as they came off the ferries, sharing some history of the town, and inviting them to explore the PMPM, and also singing.

Photo by Rebecca M. Alvin

“John Waters said to me, ‘you’re the first Town Crier that sings,’ and I said, ‘well, it always felt right,’” he says. His usual spiel, he says takes him six minutes to explain a little history, the monument, the Mayflower Compact, etc. and then he breaks into song. Sometimes this prompts people to offer tips, but Lonergan has always refused them. “This isn’t about money, this is about goodwill,” he says.

For the past eight years he’s worked for the Chamber of Commerce in this role, though. It’s also come to include participating in all the parades and also singing at the Celebration of Life concert during the Swim for Life events, all things Lonergan feels so lucky to have been able to do. It’s a bittersweet September as Lonergan says he certainly will miss his job and the many people whose lives he’s touched and in turn been touched by, but he’s glad he was here for this particular season — one of the few aspects of Provincetown that reflected a sense of normalcy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. And even as he has added a facemask to his uniform, his job has been much the same even this year. At the beginning of the season, he says he expected almost nothing to be going on as he prepared to come here from Boston, where he lives. “My friends were saying, ‘you’re going to spend all that money to rent for four months and it could be a complete ?’ I said, ‘Look it, I am the Town Crier, I have the role of welcoming, I’m a known commodity, yeah, I am gonna.’ And I’m so glad I did it.”

Welcoming Family Week parade participants on Bradford Street last year.
Photo by Rebecca M. Alvin

Speaking in Lopes Square, passersby who have heard the news take time to thank Ken for his service to the town and tell him how much they will miss him. He continues his job, welcoming visitors with the same enthusiasm he’s always had. But it’s not only about visitors; it’s also about the locals, and also about the workers, such as a deliveryman making his deliveries to local businesses. Lonergan points him out to me and tells me how hard he works. “I always say, we have to thank people for what they do,” he says before ringing his bell and directing his trademark welcome toward this man.

Will there be a replacement? It’s uncertain. Prior to Lonergan’s revival of the position, there had not been a Town Crier for a good 12 years or so. It remains to be seen.

Asked what he will miss most, Lonergan comes back to his personal story of not feeling able to be his authentic self before coming here. Here in Provincetown the love is palpable. “To be here and to be embraced… Money can’t buy that,” he says.

To see the film Mike Syers made about Lonergan, Because You’re Here, visit

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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