How sweet it is to have a crossing guard like Bob.
Known for wearing costumes each day as he safely guides children across the street, Bob Sweet was surprised Wednesday morning when he was joined in costume by about a dozen Grade 8 students from St. Ignatius School and their teacher, Pat Barnson.
Sweet wore a kilt and leather jacket as he escorted kids dressed as a milk jug, whoopie cushion, ghost, Darth Vader, monkey, Goofy and vampire at the corner of Corydon Avenue and Harrow Street.
The days of another school year are winding down, and so is his career.
Sweet, 66, will retire next week after 11 years as an adult crossing guard for the kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school.
Though his last official day is the last day of school, June 28, the kids decided to show their appreciation as a group on Wednesday.
"This was a bit of a shock (to see the kids in costumes), but it sure is nice," said Sweet, who was clearly astounded when the students walked up in a group wearing their costumes. "My plan was to make everybody smile, make everybody happy."
A school assembly was held Wednesday morning during which Sweet and principal Glen Palahicky, who has transferred to Morden, were lauded with songs, poems and stories by students.
"Bob's creativity just brings a sense of joy and welcoming for the kids," said Palahicky, who will be the vice-principal at âcole Morden Middle School. "He keeps them safe and it's our own little Disney World here. When the kids get to see those characters (costumes) they can relate to, it just puts them in a good headspace for the rest of the day here at school for learning."
Sweet started wearing costumes as another way to stand out in the crowd and alert motorists that children are crossing the road, but it immediately became part of his regular routine as the students adored him for it.
"It's put a smile on our faces every day," said Chas Meadows, 14. "Maybe we're coming to school kind of grumpy, but when we see Mr. Sweet, you just start smiling because he's such a funny, happy guy. Our group is lucky; we had him here since we were in kindergarten."
Alice Hamilton, 13, had to raise her voice to be heard amid honks from cars showing their appreciation as they passed the costumed crew.
"It's nice to see him every morning that I'm walking to school, and it's been fun to be able to say I'm from the school where the crossing guard dresses up. Lots of people have heard about him," Alice said.
Barnson, wearing a leopard costume, said the fact her middle-school students got up extra early showed how much Sweet means to them.
"They thought it would be cool to dress up in solidarity with him one morning. It was a Grade 8 decision to do this, and I think it's great."
Sweet won't be retiring from the costume-wearing business, as he has another gig lined up.
"Laughter Without Borders," he said, indicating the T-shirt he was wearing under his leather jacket. "I'll be clowning around."
He'll be showing up at events as a mascot or wearing costumes for kids' birthday parties.