Positively Jax: Community turns out for beloved crossing guard’s birthday

John Shatto is a veteran and crossing guard of 21 years, and a beloved pillar of the community.

Honoring a beloved crossing guard
Honoring a beloved crossing guard

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An effort to make John Shatto feel special on his birthday didn’t go far enough for community members in Clay County.

Shatto has been a crossing guard for Clay County School District for 21 years. He’s also a veteran who served 42 years in the Air Force and Navy. In 1950, he served in the Korean War.

These days, however, Shatto spends his time guiding kids safely across the busy streets near Montclair Elementary School.

“I love these kids. They are my heart and soul. And that’s the reason I’m out here is for the kids. I don’t get paid that much money for doing this and we’re out here in all kinds of weather. When they’re right here with me, they’re my kids.” he said.

Just prior to his 85th birthday, a coordinated effort to celebrate Shatto started on social media.

“Honk for John,” the post on Facebook read in part. The idea was to get passer-byers to honk when they see Shatto and maybe even yell out a “Happy Birthday!”

But for some, including Beverly Calix, that wouldn’t quite due.

“We wanted to make sure that this birthday is super special because he’s thinking this may be his last year. He has told us that. He’s just really special. He takes care of my girls as they cross for school and every special occasion. He always gives them something for Halloween, for their birthdays. It’s so sweet, I mean he is such a sweet man it’s pretty amazing,” Calix said.

Friday several grateful community members took it a step further and brought Shatto all kinds of gifts, everything from a birthday card, balloons, food, or other gifts. Still, hundreds of honks were heard for Shatto.

“This is an outstanding birthday present for me,” Shatto said.

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