Don’t be afraid if you see a six-foot-four man dressed in bright orange and green walking around the streets of Oak Bay.
Chances are it will be town crier, Kenny Podmore, delivering a message in his new regalia.
“Some people call it a costume, and it’s not,” the 69-year-old Sidney resident said. “It’s definitely authentic 18th century regalia.”
While Podmore’s orange wool coat, brown breeches, and green waistcoat may frighten some young children, or have them mistaking Podmore as a pirate, it’s all in good fun, he says.
“I love making people laugh, that’s what it’s all about,” says Podmore, who’s held the title of ceremonial town crier in Oak Bay for 12 years.
The inspiration for his new crier outfit, which he paid for himself, came from a porcelain character, also known as a Toby jug that he saw in an antique store many years ago.
He collects town crier versions of the character jugs and the vision of one dressed in orange and green never quite left his mind, he says.
Plus, Podmore was looking for a colour that would stand out, orange, which happens to be his favourite colour, seemed to work.
“It really has turned out fantastic and I’m really, really pleased.”
Since revealing his new regalia during this year’s Oak Bay Tea Party, he’s heard great feedback, he says, and been called brave for wearing such a vivid colour.
“I’m one of these guys wearing pink as well, and they say it takes a man to wear pink, so I guess it takes a man to wear orange as well,” he jokes.
A certain amount of acting goes into the role, he says, adding that it’s not all serious work. Whether dressed in tights, lace, or frills, “it’s all fun.”
“I remind everybody that smiles are infectious,” he says. “I love to put that line (in each cry).”
Originally from Stafford, England, Podmore brought the role of town crier back to life in his hometown in 1992.
He attended the World Town Crier Championship in Sidney in 1997 and soon settled there in 1998. He is a town councillor and the municipality’s official crier as well.
“Canada has been so good to me, and this my way of saying thank you,” he says of his volunteer role in both Oak Bay and Sidney.
“The payment is the joy you get out of doing the job, and I always say the best part of town crying is the people you meet.”