Whether it’s city employees, parents or the dozens of students who walk by daily, anybody who regularly passes the corner of 14th and Pearl knows Rikki Floyd, the beloved crossing guard who’s served the Will Rogers’ community for more than 10 years.
With her red stop sign, sparkling personality and penchant for conversation, Floyd has come to know almost every single resident — both human and canine — who live within a two block radius of her crossing corner.
During a community celebration for the retiring crossing guard Friday, parents recalled coaxing their now-college-aged children to school using nothing more than the opportunity to talk to Floyd.
“She knows everybody’s name — adults, nannies, all the kids, all the dogs — and even all of the people who are not even school-goers,” said parent Bailey Field, who was one of many in attendance for Friday’s pop-up party. “She just makes people feel like they’re visible and they’re important. She also likes to add some kind of joy and is always really compassionate with us.”
During the holiday times, Floyd always had a treat to delight the kids, attendees said while they described her colorful Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras costumes.
“It really transforms the community and brings everyone together because people stop and they chat and get to know each other. And it just gets our day off to such a positive start,” parent Pamela Petrigliano said. “No matter how much trouble we had getting out of the house with our kids, when you have her smiling and calling out, ‘Hello!’ to everyone, it just puts you in a good mood, and I think it affects all of us in such a positive way.”
Floyd said she was originally placed at Lincoln Middle School when she began working as a crossing guard but one Monday after Christmas break, “I’m driving and I can’t wait to get to my corner and my boss calls to say, ‘I need you to go to 14th and Pearl.’”
“I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to miss all my kids,’” Floyd said, “not knowing that they’re all going to pass right through my new spot to get to the school… So yeah — I got here. I loved it. They loved me, and it’s been a love affair ever since.”
Floyd’s corner was packed with residents for hours on Friday as nearly hundred residents came out to bid farewell.
“It fills my heart with joy to know I touched all of these individuals. I’ve had people who I don’t cross stop by and say, ‘Oh, we love you. Thank you,’” Floyd said at the conclusion of her shift Friday. “My whole thing is everybody needs a smile in the morning to get started, so I tried to wave to as many people as I can and smile as much as I can.”
Floyd hopes to continue smiling in Hawaii, where she will soon be moving to during retirement.
“Everybody has just been so lovely and wonderful,” Floyd said. “It’s the heart-to-heart hellos and goodbyes that I’m gonna miss so much. It’s also going to be pretty hard not seeing the little ones finish and move on.”