“Tony Dancer” rings in 2022 with the historic Paul Revere bell of Bath


Antonio “Tony Dancer” Garreton stands with the centuries-old Paul Revere Bell in the Belfry of Bath Town Hall. Kathleen O’Brien / The time record

Antionio Garreton, known locally as ‘Tony Dancer’, rang the New Years Eve in Bath by ringing Paul Revere’s centenary bell at noon on New Years Eve.

Standing atop City Hall, looking out over Bath city center, Garreton said he never thought he would be recognized as Bath’s 2021 Citizen of the Year when he moved to Maine, but Bath has turned out to be one of the most welcoming places he has ever lived.

“After living in New York and Washington DC, moving to Bath has been a very radical and strong change,” said Garreton. “To look around and not see another person of my race or culture was shocking in my mind. Eighteen years ago I thought I would be unable to live here being Afro-Latino and gay, but it wasn’t like that.

Garreton spoke to his family in Peru on the city’s livestream on Facebook Live before pulling on the rope that rang the centuries-old bell. Garreton said he counts in Spanish by ringing the bell 12 times to mark the hour because it is “the language of my heart”.

With every ring of the bell, Garreton said he wanted his community to “continue to get along and strengthen our community, not to regret 2021, and instead to be grateful that we survived it, and to learn if we have. had a bad experience, to make 2022 better.

Garreton was born and raised in Peru and moved to the United States at the age of 17. Garreton made a name for himself in Bath when he opened Tony Dance Fiesta, a dance studio on Center Street in Bath, where he offers dance and Zumba lessons. He used his classes to share his culture and inspire his students to love themselves for who they are, but Garreton began volunteering and organizing fundraisers after a student committed suicide in 2015.

Antonio “Tony Dancer” Garreton pulls the rope on the roof of Bath Town Hall to ring the town’s Paul Revere bell. Kathleen O’Brien / The time record

In the New Year, Garreton said he wanted to continue working with the Midcoast Youth Center in Bath, which provides a host of resources free of charge, such as after-school programs, adult mentors, homework clubs, hot snacks and meals, and school clothes and supplies if needed. The association also connects students in need with all resources outside the center, such as health care, mental health support or drug addiction treatment.

Previously, Garreton gathered school supplies for the Set for Success event at the Midcoast Youth Center by hosting dance classes and asking attendees to bring school supplies to donate to the event instead of payment.

Garreton also organized a drive-through collection of groceries and cooked meals to bring to elderly residents of Bath during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although residents were discouraged from congregating under Town Hall or the Christmas carol when the bell rang to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19, Bath’s marketing communications specialist Lindsey Goudreau said that the town was still determined to continue the tradition of ringing the town’s Paul Revere bell at noon. on New Years Eve “to add a sense of normalcy to the community”.

“It’s an event that not only celebrates this historic piece of Bath, but it also celebrates this tradition of selecting a Citizen of the Year and the good he does for the community and giving him the opportunity to do something. something special, ”said Goudreau.

The Paul Revere Bell of Bath was cast over 200 years ago and is one of four Paul Revere bells in the state. Although Revere’s family-owned metallurgy business sank nearly 400 bells, Bath’s was established during Revere’s lifetime.

The Bath Bell was commissioned by the former North Meetinghouse congregation, according to Jack Martin, reference librarian in the Sagadahoc History and Genealogy Room at the Patten Free Library. The bell was hung from the spire of North Church, the town’s meeting house on the corner of High and Center streets in 1803.

Over time, the bell bounced around various churches in Bath, but the city eventually bought it in 1928 and it was moved to the Town Hall Belfry where it stands today, according to Martin. . Now the bell only rings on New Years Eve by the Bath Citizen of the Year.

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