Savannah Dan: the man makes the suit
Published: Nov. 23, 2015 at 10:03 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2015 at 10:45 PM EST
Dan Ledger knows the date.
He also knew enough to heed the marketing consultant who told tell him to ignore it as a sartorial standard that says you can't wear seersucker after Labor Day.
“I wrote a check to an expert and he said ‘What did Colonel Sanders wear after Labor Day?’” Ledger, who wears seersucker to work every day, said. “He said ‘If you take that seersucker suit off, you are an idiot.’ He said you will be more iconic wearing it after Labor Day than in June, July and August when everybody's wearing one. And I've been wearing it ever since.”
He wears it five or six days a week, 12 months a year for the entertainment of thousands of tourists over the last five years as Savannah Dan, the most recognizable member of an ever-deepening tour-guide pool in Savannah.
A former Savannah police officer, Dan leads walking tours through the Historic District that he tries to make historically accurate.
"Sometimes legend is more interesting than the actual historical fact, but I like to stick to the facts,” he said. “That's the cop in me. I'd hear something and say, that just doesn't jive. There's something about that story that's not making sense.”
When he decided to start giving tours five years ago, Ledger fortified an ample working knowledge of the city with hours of research at the Georgia Historical Society. But he does retain some unique information from his days as a cop.
"I'm being literal,” says Ledger, “you know where some of the bodies are buried.”
A history buff and natural story-teller, he spent 10 years as a photographer and a radio personality before finding the path he eventually followed.
"Now, there was no clap of thunder and I didn't hear Charlton Heston's voice,” he said, “but I got an idea more crystal clear than any idea I've ever had. And that's why I say it was divine intervention. It was simply, do a walking tour at 10 and 2, you don't have nothing else to do. And I thought, well, I can do that.”
The Savannah Dan persona took a little more time to develop and started with age-old advice.
"My daddy always said ‘If you're going to do something son, be the best-looking one in the room and always look like you've got someplace better to go,’” Ledger said. “Even if you're overdressed.”
The plan was solidified the first time he walked around town in his seersucker and was stopped several times by tourists wanting to take his picture.
"I knew right then and there,” he said. “I said, oh I'm on to something. That was April 2009.”
He keeps about a dozen different colors in rotation, but finds the pants of a cotton suit wear out pretty quickly.
"They always wear out before the jackets,” Ledger said. “So, if you happen to need a seersucker jacket in a 50 long, brother, I can hook you up. I've got a closet full of them.”
And he said he has a full career too, now that all he has to arrest is his customer's attention.
"Right now, in this town, you couldn't pay me to be a cop anymore,” says Ledger. “All I've got to do is walk around with people who want to be here, tell them stories and have a good time.
“People ask me all the time how come you are doing this as opposed to being a cop? You know what I tell them? The clientele's a lot better.’’
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