CLEVELAND (WJW)– A beloved crossing guard was caught off guard on her last day on the job.
After 30 years serving the same neighborhood, Paula Thomas got a very special surprise retirement send-off in Cleveland.
“It was quite a surprise. I thought, ‘Oh, there’s extra kids today’ when I first saw them coming down the street,” Thomas said.
Thomas has been a fixture at Jasper Avenue and West 105th Street for decades, and her primary concern has always been the safety of the children.
That’s why she didn’t notice exactly who and what was coming towards her Tuesday afternoon. It wasn’t until she stopped traffic that she realized the crowd carrying flowers and balloons was her own children, grandchildren and husband of 45 years John Thomas.
“I’m very proud of her,” John Thomas said. “She’s very devoted to her family, her kids and the kids up here.”
All six of her children and nine grandchildren are very proud too.
“I think it’s really cool that she does that and can help out the kids like that!” said 11-year-old Cecilia Thomas, her granddaughter.
Thomas became choked up as she embraced her loved ones.
“It is bittersweet, kids across the street, I’ve watched them grow up and now they come and say hello,” Thomas said. “Now, the kids I crossed 30 years ago, they’ve got kids of their own.”
But she’s grateful to have served them and the neighborhood even as she prepares to pass her safety vest and stop sign over to the next crossing guard.
When asked what tips she would give her replacement, she said simply, “Pay attention to the traffic.”