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Happy 90th Birthday Johnny!

Dozens of people yesterday gathered at the Crow Lane roundabout to deliver a simple message: Happy Birthday Johnny Barnes.

Mr Barnes, who has greeted the Island every weekday morning for nearly 70 years, celebrates his 90th birthday tomorrow.

The event was organised in part by Ashley Tucker, who said that according to Mr Barnes’ entry on Wikipedia, he was set to turn 90 next year. She approached Mr Barnes and asked if anything was being planned to recognise the event, but he said he was turning 90 this year.

“Suddenly I realised I didn’t have much time,” she said. “That was back in February.”

She then contacted the Department of Tourism about putting something together to celebrate the occasion.

Acting Tourism Minister Leah Scott and Tourism Director Billy Griffith both took part in the festivities, praising Mr Barnes as an icon of Bermuda.

"I think it's wonderful that he's done this for so long," Ms Scott said. "No matter what you are feeling, when you come into town and see him here, rain or shine, it fills you with positivity."

Mr Griffith meanwhile noted that Mr Barnes has been waking up before 4am for nearly 70 years to greet the morning traffic.

“He has done this selflessly for so many, many years, and it’s really tremendous,” he said. “He’s an icon of tourism, and of Bermuda itself, around the world.”

Mr Barnes started waving at passers-by on East Broadway while he was working as an electrician on the Bermuda Railway. He made it a daily tradition when he was just 23.

Mr Barnes thanked his well wishers, saying that the world is all about learning to love each other.

“If we learn how to love one another, there would be no jealousy, no anger, no envy. Everything would be just right,” he said. “I feel good every day, and I thank God for it.”

Asked if he had anything else he wanted to tell the community, he said: "Remember to tell them that I love them."


The Royal Gazette: http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20130622/NEWS/706219912