An End Zone Patriot
By Meggie Quackenbush
BU News Service
Amid the North End’s usual throngs of tourists strolling down Hanover Street snapping iPhone photos and pausing to glance into the windows of pastry shops, one man stood out last Monday: dressed in linen knickers, a green frock coat, a tri-cornered hat and carrying a four-foot-long musket, Charles Walsh was not your typical sightseer.
Walsh, of Tiverton, R.I., is a colonial reenactor and a member of the End Zone Militia, a group of individuals who dress as Revolutionary War soldiers and serve as the unofficial mascots for the New England Patriots. He has been reenacting since 2001 after he saw an ad in a newspaper calling for participants in a staging of the Battle of Rhode Island. Just a few years later, Walsh was invited to join the End Zone Militia, who stand watch in the end zones of Gillette Stadium, ready to shoot their muskets should the Patriots score a touchdown
A sincere interest in the history of New England and the Revolutionary War period drew Walsh to re-enacting. “It’s fun bringing it to the attention of people, especially kids. It’s a very interesting historic period for me,” he said.
“Oh, it’s exciting—it’s really fun. It’s the most fun I can have. And people appreciate it; we get a lot of nice comments from people,” he said.
Walsh, cheerful and gray-haired, explained that he’s been getting away from doing battle reenactments, which require a lot of running around and maneuvering that he feels he’s getting “a little too old” to do. But, a Patriots fan through and through, Walsh loves his role with the Militia. “Oh it’s awesome,” he said.
The End Zone Militia men and women are all responsible for their own kits, Walsh explained, gingerly holding his Brown Bess, a British model frequently used by Americans during the war. “Nobody will mind,” he said, glancing around to see if anyone would notice as he demonstrated how to load his weapon.
“When it’s time to fire, the captain says, ‘Make ready,’” he explained, pulling the trigger and sending a small burst of sparks into the air. “That’s basically what we do,” he said with a grin.
Walsh said he will be rooting for the Patriots this weekend during their matchup against the Seattle Seahawks at the Super Bowl. “If I didn’t say yes to that I’d get fired,” he laughed, explaining proudly that the End Zone Militia, formerly a group of volunteers, became employees of the Kraft organization last year.
But for Walsh, and for the rest of the Militia, it’s not just a job. “We would do it even if we weren’t getting paid,” he said.