December 17, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
30°F
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Elyria school crossing guard battles elements by waving away the chill

Homer Wilson, an Elyria Schools crossing guard, waves Wednesday on Gulf Road near Ely Elementary School. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

It’s cold. Really, really cold.

Temperatures this week, according to the National Weather Service, have been 15 degrees below average for this time of year thanks to a waft of cold air from the Arctic.

Even though the next few days, like those before them, will be cold — sub-freezing highs cold — Elyria Schools crossing guard Homer Wilson will continue to rise early to man the corner of Ohio Street and Gulf Road.

Staying warm, Wilson said, is about connecting with those around you.

“I holler at everybody,” the 77-year-old said as he stood clad head-to-toe in cold-weather gear. “I holler at everybody driving by. I wave at them, and I try to make them laugh.”

Wilson waves like a madman at each passing car. It’s almost like he’s advertising a yard sale as he shouts hellos, his breath forming cloud after cold cloud. A driver in a green sedan flashes his brights; another honks; a woman in a gold minivan waves back through a rolled-up window.

People weren’t always so kind, Wilson said.

“When I first got here, everybody was frowning in their cars … I mean just hating the cold. I didn’t like it much either myself, but I figured, why not try to make everyone’s day a little better?”

So, he started waving.

Apart from adding a little joy to the crosswalk, Wilson also finds that waving and bouncing on his feet keeps him warm.

“I can’t stand to sit around. You stay inside on the couch, and the next thing you know you’re fat,” he said.

“I’d rather be out here in the cold helping the kids than stuck doing nothing on my couch. Even if it is the coldest weather I’ve seen in a while,” he said.

Coldest, indeed. Last year, for instance, saw record high temperatures in January.

So if you — like most of us — can’t avoid the cold and snow all together, take a page out of Homer Wilson’s book: Smile and wave.

Contact Mark Allain at 329-7126 or mallain@chroniclet.com.