Is there any good news in the dire straits all the headlines reflect? Yes.

Probably countless stories of ‘ordinary’ people doing remarkable things. That would be a great blog right there, one dedicated to finding and featuring those stories. But on this blog, I focus on them whenever I find them.

I found this in my inbox, from a dearly beloved who knows I love human interest stories. And Johnny Barnes is certainly that.

Beloved by tourists and locals alike, Barnes has devoted a quarter of a century to spreading goodwill and cheer at the Crow Lane roundabout outside of Hamilton. Here, the octogenarian icon of Bermuda hospitality stands five days a week, waving and blowing kisses at drivers and pedestrians. “Good morning!” he calls. “God bless you!”

Also known as “Mr. Feel Good” and “Happy Man,” Barnes has gained international fame for his friendliness. His portrait adorns Hamilton’s Visitors’ Service Bureau and he has been honoured by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. In addition, acclaimed local sculptor Desmond Fountain captured Barnes’s spirit in bronze in 1998. Today the 6-1/2-ft.-tall statue of Barnes, commissioned by the Spirit of Bermuda Trust, overlooks the entrance of East Broadway.

“I never thought I’d have my own statue,” Barnes exclaims with the broadest of smiles.

Johnny Barnes does not have a degree in philosophy or physics, but he is convinced that he knows the secret of life. “The world is made for love,” he tells Bermuda visitors curious or brave enough to stop in traffic and shake his hand.

That’s a lesson he says he learned from his parents, who came here from the West Indian island of St. Kitts. “My mother taught me to love everyone and be kind to all,” he says, “Each of us has a part of God in himself.”

Barnes was 60, working as a driver and repairman at the bus depot in Hamilton, when he suddenly decided to start greeting strangers. On his way to work one morning he had what can only be described as an epiphany.

He stopped at the roundabout and began calling out to everyone he saw. At first, people thought he was crazy. Then, as they continued to see him morning after morning, they began to appreciate his joy and perseverance…

Sometimes he joins hands with tourists to pray for their safe journeys.

Motivated by sheer love and unimaginable joy.

Johnny Barnes, Mr. Happy Man.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....