The 244th Lantern Lighting Ceremony was held on Sunday night, April 15th, the eve of Patriot’s Day at Old North Church in Boston’s North End. The Lantern Ceremony celebrates the events of the night of April 18, 1775, when two men acting under the orders of Paul Revere snuck into the Old North Church late at night, climbed up Boston’s tallest steeple, and hung two lanterns. Their act of defiance against military occupation and monarchical rule ushered in the start of the American Revolutionary War. Ever since the 1875 centennial anniversary of the lantern hanging, Old North has invited guests and community leaders to participate in a ceremony honoring the patriots who made that midnight ride possible.
The theme of this year’s ceremony was “community and courage.” The keynote speaker was United States Congresswoman Lori Trahan, Representative to Massachusetts 3rd Congressional District. The ceremony featured colonial militia and re-enactors, a reading by NBC10’s Latoya Edwards of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s beloved poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” and the lighting of two lanterns atop Old North’s steeple. Also participating was Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards. Your own editor was honored to be a lantern carrier along with Sydney Chaffeee, 2017 National Teacher of the Year.
With retirement coming at year-end, this was the last lantern ceremony for Stephen T. Ayres as Vicar of Old North Church with special remarks by Rt. Rev. Alan Gates, Bishop Diocesan for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Ayres also penned a Sunday column for the Globe highlighting the need and importance of supporting Boston’s historic sites.
At the conclusion of the lantern ceremony, riders from the National Lancers re-enacted Paul Revere’s and William Dawes’ ride.