Crossing guard Raymond Monckton had no idea what wild traffic he would see on Dec. 19, his last day helping Gledhill students across Danforth Avenue.
While Monckton slipped a caution vest over his winter coat and got his stop sign ready, dozens of kids and parents were quietly gathering just out of sight – as quietly as a bunch of elementary students can be when their hands are full of kazoos, cowbells, recorders, and drums.
At 8:20 a.m., Monckton expected the usual morning rush of students crossing Danforth at Gledhill Avenue.
Instead, he saw a full-blown parade thanking him for seven years of service. Led by Pharrell Williams’ Happy playing on a rolling sound system, the children and parents walked towards him singing, playing noisemakers, and holding thank-you cards and signs.
After Monckton had helped everyone cross safely to the north-side corner, they joined in a chorus of “Thank you Ray!” Local councillors Janet Davis and Mary Margaret-McMahon presented him with a certificate on behalf of the city.
Jessica Schmiedchen, one of the parents who organized the parade, said knowing Ray was working the busy Danforth intersection encouraged her to let her sons walk to school.
“I 100 per cent know that if it actually came down to it, he would jump in front of a car for my kid,” said Schmiedchen.
Asked what he enjoyed most about being a crossing guard, Monckton said, “Number one, it’s the kids. I got to know them, and their parents.”
Deciding to retire wasn’t easy, he said, adding that last year’s unusually cold winter took its toll.
Monckton was also knocked to the ground by a car turning onto Danforth Avenue when he was walking home from a shift two years ago.
“I count my lucky stars nothing was broken,” he said.
It took six weeks to recover from the hit, and Monckton said he felt nervous on his first morning back.
But that quickly changed when the first big group of Gledhill students approached.
“They were so happy to see me, that bad feeling was gone,” he said, smiling. “It just disappeared.”