After news broke about the sewer emergency in Provincetown this week, amid the peak summer season, residents and tourists turned to social media and checked local news outlets for updates on the situation.
But just outside Provincetown Town Hall on Thursday stood a slightly less modern source for information about the issue: Town Crier Daniel Gómez Llata.
Dressed in old-fashioned attire, including buckled shoes and a Pilgrim-style hat, Gómez Llata delivered a mid-day briefing on the water problem affecting public bathrooms and local restaurants in some of the busiest parts of town. With his trusty bell beside him, which he picked up and rang ceremoniously at the end of the announcement, he capped his message to the community with a bow and a tip of his comically tall hat.
The popular summer getaway on the tip of Cape Cod has had a turbulent few years, with the downtown sewage failure on Thursday — just ahead of the busy Carnival Week — marking the latest issue for officials to manage.
The vacuum system, which serves a long stretch of Commercial Street and other nearby areas, was impacted by a recent storm.
Restaurants and public bathrooms in the affected areas were forced to close, and residents were told to reduce water use, including showering and only flushing “when absolutely necessary,” officials said.
While many dining spots remained closed Friday as the town continued to work on the issue, Town Manager Alex Morse said he anticipates the problem will be fully corrected before Carnival kicks off Sunday.
But amid the turmoil Thursday stood Gómez Llata — front and center — providing updates on the situation with a bellow and a bit of comic relief.
“It is required and necessary” that food service businesses and properties comply with town orders, “to prevent a public health emergency causing sewage overflows here in the, again, brown zone,” Gómez Llata shouted in one clip posted by a Cape Cod Times photographer.
“Let us pray to the supreme architect of the universe that the system will have been rectified,” he continued, in another video posted by a Cape Cod Times reporter. “Ladies and gentlemen, that is all the news that is fit to shout. May freedom ring and may god save the queens.”
Onlookers clapped and laughed when he wrapped up his announcement, which included a list of restaurants that were still open.
Gómez Llata is the 22nd town crier to serve in a line dating back to at least 1864, according to the official Provincetown Crier Facebook page.
Radu Luca, executive director of the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce, which employs the town crier, said Gómez Llata was selected for the position last year and began his role that spring. He filled the slot left vacant by Kenneth Lonergan, who had served for 13 years. The crier’s job includes spreading the news of the day, serving as an ambassador for the town, and taking photos with tourists.
Luca said it’s typically up to Gómez Llata to pick and choose what he wants to call out to residents and visitors, but his message on Thursday was “more of a PSA” given the urgency of the situation. Gómez Llata, who was not immediately available for comment, is scheduled to speak again Friday about the latest updates.
“It’s an interesting feature for a town to have a town crier,” said Luca. “It’s important to have someone there on the streets that can spread the really good up-to-date, accurate information to our guests and visitors. I think Daniel and the town crier fits into the tapestry of the town and how Provincetown is a unique, quirky destination.”