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Dancing Crossing Guard Brings Smiles To Drivers, Pedestrians In Hempstead

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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Long Island crossing guard is getting a lot of attention for the way she hops along with traffic while she’s on duty in the Village of Hempstead.

As CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported, Shirley Cunningham can’t be missed when she’s directing traffic along Hempstead Turnpike.

She guides pedestrians through a busy intersection with a little dance she said is inspired by a classic children’s song always playing on her headset.

“I’m listening to ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands,’ and that’s what I’m listening to,” Cunningham said.

She said she claps and dances because she is happy with her job. For the last 10 years this unique style has turned Cunningham into a local legend.

“I like it. I think it’s cool,” said Shavonna Taylor.

“Everybody knows she can dance, she makes everybody feel good and I love her,” said Rich Riccardo.

The always moving, always darting crossing guard even has fans imitating her dance moves.

“She throws her hands up and she goes like this and like that,” said one woman as she imitated Cunningham.

Cunningham’s employers approve of what they see too. They said she’s an expert at moving from corner to corner quickly in order to everyone across safely.

“I think it’s entertaining for everybody to see, but she really also has command of the intersection. It’s not just a dance,” said Vincent Montera, with the Hempstead Police Department.

Cunningham said she knows some drivers by name because they sometimes clog up traffic to stop and say hello. Others honk their horn, but she downplays all the attention.

“It’s just a dance. I’m crossing and I dance,” she said.

Cunningham said she’ll keep the dance as long as the village wants and people respond.

“I just like everybody. I’m just Shirley, trying to help somebody,” she said.

Cunningham’s daughter was also recently hired for the same job. It’s yet to be seen if she’ll follow in her mother’s footsteps.

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