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Harken to My Word and Take Heed

For Annapolis town crier Squire ­Frederick, ­Independence Day is a joyous occasion

Folks who live and work in Annapolis, used to seeing guys in breeches and plumed tricorn hats, scarcely bat an eye when Town Crier Fred Taylor strolls by.
    Tourists and school children are another story. They squeal in delight when meeting “Squire Frederick,” as Taylor’s known hereabouts.
    Taylor’s town crier is hard to miss. He stands tall (a head taller than your average guy). His social behavior sets him further apart.
    When meeting a man at a party, he puts his best foot forward, points his toe, doffs his hat and bows at the waist. Bowing to a young lady, he adds: “I was not aware that angels flew so low.”
    He also rings a bell and shouts loudly to tell people what he wants them to know.
    Taylor has honed to perfection skills he claims are still marketable, even in this electronic age.
    Originally from Albany, New York, Taylor spent four years in the Air Force. Upon leaving the service, he was hired by the Department of Defense. For the sake of his job, he settled in Catonsville. In 1996, Taylor retired after 37 years and began ushering at The Colonial Players theater in Annapolis. When a friend suggested he work as a guide with Three Centuries Tours in Annapolis (now Watermark Tours), he did just that.
    Opportunity knocked again around 2004, when Taylor read a newspaper article featuring the Minneapolis Town Crier. “Since I already had a colonial costume to wear,” says Taylor, “I asked the mayor of Annapolis if I could become the local town crier.”
    Two years later, in 2006, Taylor put another ­ºfeather in his cap when then-mayor Ellen Moyer made him the Officially Appointed Town Crier of Annapolis. Ever since, he’s owned the role. He’s also added the titles of Officially Appointed Town Crier of Baltimore County, Catonsville and Sykesville to his resume.
    For Squire Frederick, Independence Day is a joyous occasion. Ask him how he’s celebrating America’s birthday this year, and a happy smile lights up his face.
    “In the morning,” he says, “I’m issuing the opening and closing proclamations at the Naturalization Ceremony at the William Paca House in Annapolis.” Later that evening, he’ll ring in the Annapolis Fourth of July Parade.
    Now in its 12th year, the annual Fourth of July event draws scores of visitors to the home of William Paca, one of the four Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence and a three-term Maryland governor.
    At the 10am Naturalization Ceremony, soon-to-be Americans from around the globe swear the Oath of Allegiance. The Most Honorable Mr. Paca, as portrayed by Matt West, serves as keynote speaker. A cadet Color Guard from Annapolis High School presents the colors, and the All Children’s Chorus of Annapolis sings. The rest of the day Paca House and Gardens are open and free for all to enjoy hands-on activities and meet historic figures.
    As for Taylor, 76, life is full. “Every morning, I check my calendar to see where I’m supposed to be and when,” he says. “As I tell people, busy hands are happy hands.”

Squire Frederick in 2014 with two newly naturalized citizens.

July 4: Naturalization ceremony 10am; Explore the Paca House and Gardens, 10am-4pm, 186 Prince George St., Annapolis, free: