For lifelong Fair Lawn resident Tim Yuskaitis, a longtime hobby will soon turn into a historic role with the borough.
At Tuesday night's Borough Council meeting, Yuskaitis—police officer at New Jersey Transit and has volunteered for 20 years at the —will be appointed as the first-ever in Fair Lawn and the sixth current crier in New Jersey.
Yuskaitis, 40, said attaining the role is a way of combining his desire to be involved in the community with his love for history.
"I'm a history buff all the way around," Yuskaitis said. "[My wife] Diane is always yelling at me for watching the History Channel."
The full agenda for Tuesday's council meeting is attached in the .PDF file at right.
Criers, who have the ceremonial role of making dramatic announcements while wearing medieval or colonial-style costumes at events around the state, pay small membership dues to the American Guild of Town Criers, but municipalities also need to create the position for them. Yuskaitis read a recent Star-Ledger story about criers, contacted the American Guild, and expressed his interest to Deputy Mayor Joe Tedeschi.
On Jan. 11, the council agreed to draft a resolution to establish the position, and will pass the resolution Tuesday.
"This all happened so fast," Yuskaitis said.
So fast, in fact, that Yuskaitis is still learning about what being a crier means. When the American Guild asked Yuskaitis last week if he had prepared his "acceptance cry," Yuskaitis didn't know what that was. The acceptance cry, which Yuskaitis will make Tuesday, is a way of explaining to the public why he pursued the crier role and what his job will be.
Each "cry" announcement consists of 7-8 sentences and lasts about a minute, Yuskaitis explained. Though he'll make his acceptance cry Tuesday, Yuskaitis won't sound off at a borough event for "at least six weeks," he said. Yuskaitis still needs to get his costume; one place that was suggested to him is Illinois-based historic attire provider Jas. Townsend.
Yuskaitis doesn't have any vocal training for the role, but said he does "do a lot of yelling when I'm coaching" youth athletics for the Fair Lawn All-Sports Association.
"I'm just very involved," Yuskaitis said. "I just like doing things with the community."
Yuskaitis said he would also liked to be appointed as Bergen County's crier. William Joseph, the secretary of the American Guild, is the crier for Morris and Sussex counties and regularly appears at parades and council meetings, Yuskaitis said. Joseph will be on hand at Tuesday night's council meeting.
"They gave him the job for life, as long as he wants it," he said.
The American Guild wants criers to "keep the spirit of our history alive," Yuskaitis said. Yuskaitis is a bagpiper and considered incorporating that into his crier costume, but said he decided against it because Bergen County played a vital role in the American Revolution and bagpipes wouldn't fit a colonial-style costume. The revolution is Yuskaitis's favorite part of history, he said, because "it's the foundation of why we're here today."
Yuskaitis isn't the only history buff in his family, as his mother has traced her family's roots all the way back to the 1400s and is making a costume for his five-year-old daughter Jenna, who will assist Yuskaitis in his crier duties.
Overall, being a crier "just seems like it's a very fun, interesting hobby to have," Yuskaitis said.
"Life's short, live every second that you can," he said.