JOHN ARENDT CRYING Bruce Klippenstein of Peachland hopes to have a role as Summerland’s “honourary town crier.” Since spring, he has done his cries at 18 events throughout the valley.

Town crier seeks role in Summerland

Bruce Klippenstein would resume earlier role at local functions and ceremonies

A Peachland man wants to cry out the news in the Okanagan Valley.

Bruce Klippenstein, a former newspaper publisher from Alberta, became interested in the town crier role shortly after moving to Peachland last year.

He said taking on a town crier role is part of the news tradition.

“Town criers were the primary news media before the printing press, and played a major role in communications until that time,” he said.

While news today is delivered through newspapers, magazines, broadcast and online sources, town criers are still active in at least a dozen countries.

Summerland had a town crier from the early 1990s until around 10 years ago. Klippenstein has contacted Summerland’s former town crier Don Bowen about taking on the role.

“I’m retired and I’m looking for something to do,” Klippenstein said.

In February, he approached Peachland’s council to ask about the possibility of serving as a town crier there. While the council was receptive, Klippenstein said the community’s tourism committee did not want a town crier, since the community does not have an Old English theme.

At the time when Summerland had a town crier, the community had a downtown theme reminiscent of the United Kingdom’s history. The theme was called Tudor and later Old English.

Klippenstein visited the Business Expo in Vernon earlier this year, and since that time, he has done 18 town crier gigs in the Okanagan Valley.

He is interested in becoming an “honourary town crier” for Summerland. He is also looking to do his cries at public and private functions elsewhere in the region.

The cries begin with bell ringing, followed by a short cry of 100 to 200 words about an issue and then introducing the speaker.

His cool-weather costume features a blue and gold colour scheme, but for summer, he plans to wear white, with a white or black top hat.

He said this is reminiscent of the clothing worn by John M. Robinson, founder of Summerland, Peachland and Naramata.

Klippenstein has set up a website at OkanaganTownCrier.ca and an email account at OkanaganTownCrier@gmail.com.