Watch Your Step

Cindy Dean crosses Central Point's Pine Street wearing her cowgirl costume. pennell photoBob Pennell

When high visibility is your shield, it pays to wear a turkey on your head.

Cindy Dean, the early morning crossing guard at Mae Richardson Elementary School in Central Point, has devised a series of costumes designed to keep all eyes on her.

Cindy Dean

Age: 48

Job title: Crosswalk assistant

Job description: Helps elementary schoolchildren across the street

Salary: $8.45 per hour

Subject's education: Some college and trade school

How long at the job: One year

If you could have your dream job today, what would it be? "I'm so happy with what I do. Hmm. Maybe testing hotels on travel shows. That would be nice."

"The job can be stressful. Sometimes people don't stop. And the object is to make sure nobody's coming as you're going," Dean says.

Foggy mornings, groggy drivers and little kids eager to get to school can make a stressful mix. So Dean decided to resort to humor as her best defense while herding her students safely across busy intersections each morning.

One day she's a hunter dressed in full camouflage with her quarry — the elusive gobbler — perched on her head.

"Every day I wear a different outfit," says Dean.

Another day she morphs into Disney's beloved Goofy, topping off her outfit with a cowboy hat.

"I told my kids I was looking for my horse," she says.

The next week she showed up dressed in a child's horse costume and a new cowboy hat.

"I trotted across the street," Dean says.

Whether she's dressed in a Victorian costume, wearing a Santa suit, or sporting a basketball on her head, Dean is a hit with the kids, says Principal Susan Dippel.

"We don't have any problem with the kids. She's easily seen — which is the whole purpose of her job," Dippel says.

Dean says it took a little time to bring around some of the more socially conscious students.

"One little kid didn't like it. I think the costumes embarrassed him," she said. "The teenagers didn't know whether to laugh or feel sorry for me."

But Dean ultimately won over skeptics with her humorous attire. Adults, including commuters and staff, now look forward to seeing what Dean will come up with next.

"She's gone above and beyond the duty," said Pam Heard, school secretary. "She can get a smile even from the busy parents."

Some drivers still need a little practice in the patience department, Dean says. One car full of young men stopped for Dean and kids on her first cross. But they tried to sneak past before Dean could return to her post.

"I just really looked at them," said Dean. "How can you not see me? I was wearing something really unusual."

Speaking of unusual, Dean is always looking for new costumes. If you've got a great hat, she'd like to hear from you.

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