Retiring town crier marks end of era with present, past leaders

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>FACEBOOK/OZZIE STILES</p><p>Bridgewater town crier Austin &#8220;Ozzie&#8221; Stiles retires after 40 years of boisterous bell-ringing proclamations and announcements at community events and functions.</p>

Civic government leadership of Bridgewater's present and past were in council chambers acknowledging the end of an era for long-time town crier Austin "Ozzie" Stiles who voiced his final boisterous proclamation this spring.

Stiles, now in his 80s, did his first cry atop Halifax's Citadel Hill in June 1981. His last came in April inside Bridgewater Junior High School leading off a volunteer recognition event.

A town crier for 40 years, Stiles has been a mainstay of many community events and functions, ringing his signature bell before reading special announcements from a scroll.

Six mayors were on hand May 27 to mark one last ring of Stiles' bell as he retires from town crier duties.

Two of the town's longest serving chief magistrates were present, Harry Cook, who served in the 1970s and 1980s and Ernie Bolivar (1991-2004). Tom Bird, Carroll Publicover, and past mayor, David Walker, also witnessed the event.

Stiles wanted all the mayors under whom he served to hear his thanks in-person.

"They and their councils were like family," Stiles said.

Current mayor, David Mitchell, was also on the receiving end of Stiles' presentation of thanks. Mitchell thanked him for his service.

Stiles said one of his most memorable cry was to celebrate the new South Shore Regional Hospital off Glen Allan Drive, which opened in 1988. "People of Bridgewater need good, good medical attention," he remarked.

In an interview with LighthouseNOW in 2015, he said he filled three large scrapbooks with photographs and newspaper clippings from all the places he's travelled as a town crier, such as Belgium, England, and Bermuda.

He told LighthouseNOW he once got flak for attending a parade as town crier and waving from the back of a convertible. All of his appearances have been era-appropriate since then, he said.

Stiles said one of his highlights was meeting Prince Philip on the Isle of Wight during a world town crier competition.

During his May 27 address, Stiles said it's been a pleasure to represent the town and help foster its well-respected reputation.

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