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WATCH: Locals tell crossing guard to ''keep dancing''

Police say moves raise safety concerns

There was the best of Michael Jackson but no moon-walking for Toronto's beloved dancing crossing guard on the job Friday.

Kathleen Byers says she's doing her job "by the book now", almost to spite police it seems. For four years now, she's been grooving in the crosswalk outside Alexander Muir/Gladstone Avenue Public School on Dufferin St with music playing from an iPod dock.

But no more.

Byers was told this week to cool it with the dancing. Police have raised concerns that her moves in the crosswalk could be confusing to drivers, and on the sidewalk could prove to be a distraction.

But locals don't see anything unsafe about Byers busting a move.

"I don't think she's ever had a problem here. I think she's very careful with the kids", said Jim. Gary's eight year-old daughter is a student at Alexander Muir/Gladstone and he isn't worried about her safety on Byers' watch "I see someone who's one of the best crossing guards in the city, I think. I think we're really, really lucky to have her".

Parents and neighbours hugged Byers and shook her hand Friday, encouraging her to "keep dancing". But she kept her after-school action in the light-controlled intersection to an occasional spin and strut.

"I think it's sad", said Gary. "Because she's someone who brings so much joy every morning to so many people. She's the bright spot of the morning, she knows everybody by name. She has her infectious dancing and music that just picks everybody's morning up."

Many people near Dufferin and Dundas gushed about the sense of joy and fun Byers has brought to the neighbourhood and her important role in it.

"This kids are going to be coming to school here for six, eight years", said one local dad. "To be able to establish a rapport and relationship...is wonderful."

But Byers says she feels she has become the scapegoat for a series of recent collisions involving pedestrians. 39 pedestrians have been killed on Toronto streets in 2013. "This way, we can make people feel better, because 'look, I'm dangerous' and now we're gonna correct that", said Byers.

Eight year-olds Liefe and Stella are among those trying to get Byers moving and grooving again. "I got a big piece of paper and wrote 'Let Kathleen Dance'", explains Liefe. "And went around the school yard at lunch time and at recess and got names on it".

The girls have collected hundreds of signatures, but their parents aren't quite sure what will become of them.

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  1. john posted on 12/07/2013 10:49 AM
    i dont get it whats wrong with what she is doing it is not even a dance more like a skip and a jump . geeze people can be a pain in the ass .
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