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Wave Master

Yachtsmen who tour Bermuda are likely to have this man make their day.

February 2, 2016
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Johnny Barnes, 92, might just be the friendliest, happiest man on the island. Matt Dutile

The 25-minute ride to the roundabout in Hamilton from either end of Bermuda has a huge payoff. Provisions, yeah. Fine dining on Front Street, sure. But the moment that can change an entire journey is a three-second encounter with the friendliest, happiest man on the island: Johnny Barnes. Every morning for the past 30 years, Johnny, 92, has stood on the side of Crow Lane. Waving. Smiling. Sometimes ducking thrown objects. Even then, he’ll shout, “I love you!”

The queen of England once told me she loved me too. It was in 2009. When the procession passed, her limo slowed down and I blew her a kiss and said, “I love you.” She looked at me and said, “I love you right back.” That was a pretty good day.

I come to wave every day because of my mother. When I was a little boy growing up in Little Town, I passed by an older lady and didn’t say, “Good morning.” My mother said, “Don’t ever pass by someone without saying hello. People need people. You be friendly to everyone.” I never forgot that. There’s a statue of me at the train station. Back when I worked there I’d sit on the wall at lunchtime and wave at all the people passing by in their cars. People didn’t know what to make of me. They’d give a look like, “Has that fella gone off his head?”

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My wife didn’t understand it at first either. I’d leave in the morning to come wave, and people would stop by the house and say, “Do you know what your husband is doing? He’d down at the roundabout telling folks he loves them.”

Not everyone says hello back. Some people tell me to get a job. One morning some fellas threw water at me. But that’s OK. I still told them I loved them.

This is enjoyable. There’s no reason not to be friendly to people. As long as the Lord gives me health and strength, I’ll be out here waving. Except when there’s lightning — that’s when I take cover.

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Bermuda in 3 Steps

1. THE BIG EVENT

Bermuda will host the 35th America’s Cup in June 2017. The racing will be in the waters of Great Sound (pictured below), which is horseshoed between Bermuda’s capital city of Hamilton and the planned America’s Cup Village at the Royal Naval Dockyard.

2. BEST SNAPSHOTS

Local photographers find eye candy in the form of colorful cottages and, at sunrise, the pink-sand beaches that ring the island. Church Bay and Chaplin Bay are secret favorites, so… shhhh.

3. NATIONAL DRINK

The Dark ‘n’ Stormy is said to have originated on Bermuda, and Gosling’s has a trademark on the drink. In it’s purest form, according to Gosling’s, it’s 2 ounces of Black Seal rum (very dark) mixed with fizzy ginger beer (quite stormy). That’s it.

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Gosling’s Rum has a long history in Bermuda, spanning back to the early 1800s. Courtesy istock: WWING
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