Mr. Happy Man of Bermuda
UPDATE: Johnny Barnes passed away on July 9, 2016 at the age of 93.
If you have been to Bermuda, you must have already met with or heard of this amazing man. It's hard to believe how Johnny Barnes has been able to reach such heights of happier living and able to maintain it for decades. This cheerful man now in his early 90s, can be seen everyday in the morning at Crow Lane
circle waving and cheering at all the commuters heading for Hamilton City. Crow Lane Circle is about a mile east of Hamilton and in Paget parish.
Johnny will be there at 3:45 a.m. everyday (Monday through Friday) without a fail with his backpack and radio, wearing a straw hat, usually a jerkin and a trouser. As the daylight breaks and commuters on two and four wheelers start approaching Hamilton through the Crow Lane round-about for their days work, Johnny swings into action.
He starts cheering and wishing the commuters - "Good Morning!", "I love you!", "God bless you" ... This is the way he continues to spread joy and goodwill to all till 10 in the morning everyday. To the commuters, a day's hard work begins with an exchange of love and blessings - the day may not turn out to be as stressful after all.
Johnny Barnes of Bermuda
Johnny Barnes was born on June 23, 1923. His parents came to Bermuda from West Indian island St. Kitts. He was an electrician by profession working in Bermuda Railways. However, in 1948 the railways in Bermuda closed down. Johnny then became a bus driver, and this is the identity by which he is known to most.
He was always a jovial and friendly man. At an age of 60, he suddenly had a new realization in life. One day on his way to work, he stopped at the Crow Lane Circle
and decided to wave at the commuters and cheer at them. The joy he felt inside, made him quit his job and take up the responsibility of spreading love for rest of his life.
Initially some people in Bermuda thought that he must be a cracked nut. Some even thought such act may cause accidents. But he never caused accidents and people gradually understood that Johnny Barnes is actually an angel of love. Today, many commuters stop by to shake hands with Johnny, some greet him and some even present him with flowers. Many tourists make it a point that they meet Johnny during their visit to Bermuda and also buy a $1 postcard from him that has his own picture on it. The postcards after all help him sustain his livelihood. Johnny says "The world is made for love, People need to know that love is important". Over the years, he has gained tremendous popularity in the island as well as all over the world. You can find his portrait at the Visitors Information Center in Hamilton.
Visitor with Johnny Barnes waving together
while standing by his bronze sculpture
I heard that one day he failed to show up. The whole island was shaken up. Phones buzzed everywhere, people wanting to know what happened to Johnny. Well, he had some illness on the day and had to be hospitalized. The next day he was back into action and everything was back to normal.
However this incident left a big question in the mind of people of Bermuda. What happens if Johnny Barnes is actually no more? How does the joy continue to spread? This thought resulted in people of Bermuda creating a charity called the Spirit of Bermuda Trust
. People donated generously and commissioned a famous local sculptor Desmond Fountain to create a 6-1/2 foot long statue of Johnny Barnes. In 1998, this statue of Barnes was erected. However it is not at Crow Lane round-about, but placed in a greener pasture nearby and close to Underwater Exploration Institute
An American film maker Matt Morris has created a short documentary "Mr. Happy Man" on the life of Johnny Barnes. It had its world premiere in the Bermuda International Film Festival in 2011. The film has also been screened at Aspen Shorts festival in the U.S which is one of the most prestigious short film festivals in the world and received a great audience response.
The documentary received an Honorable Mention by the grand jury at the 2011 Nashville Film Festival. It was also accepted at some of the other best film festivals in the world including the Palm Springs Shorts festival, Independent Film Festival in Boston, Mountainfilm Telluride, and Maine’s International Film Festival. The film has been accepted in AFI/Discovery Channel’s Silverdocs as well.
You will get the "Mr. Happy Man" DVD at the Bermuda Book Store ( located at Hamilton, 3-Queen Street, at the corner of Queen Street and Front Street).
September 29, 2016:
Film maker Rosanne Ma of Welcoming Arms sent me the link to her short documentary film on Johnny Barnes. This is what she wrote: "Dear Raj, I want to share w you a short documentary I just released. It features Johnny Barnes and I think you will agree that it has a different feel then Mr. Happy Man. In the film, Johnny touches on the subject of death and the local children talk about his legacy. Welcoming Arms has screened at Oscar qualifying festivals: Big Sky Documentary, Urbanworld and of course Bermuda Film Fest
as well as other industry recognized festivals. I hope you enjoy the film. Kind regards, Rosanne Ma". Here is the link to her short documentary
Johnny Barnes passed away at the early hours of July 9, 2016 at the age of 93. His funeral took place on July 18, 2016. Here is an extract from his last wish... "May my absence from the bench at the roundabout and my statue, The Spirit of Bermuda
, remind you to share love, and kindness with each other.....". Johnny's last wish
was published by The Royal Gazette of Bermuda.
UPDATE January 2016: At 92, Johnny is thinking of retiring from his daily ritual near Crow Lane Circle and below the Trimingham hill. He is not regular for the past few weeks. He is having problems with his knees.
UPDATE June 23 2015: He started the day the same way as always... "I love you". When asked how old was he on that day, he smiled back and said "I am 92 today".
UPDATE June 23 2014: Today is Johnny Barne's 91st birthday. He continues with his usual ritual of distributing love from Crow Lane Circle and is still going strong.
UPDATE June 23 2013: Today is the 90th birthday of Johnny Barnes. His birthday was celebrated at the Crow Lane circle. Many islanders gathered with colorful posters. White T-shirts have been circulated with Johnny's face printed on it. Johnny himself was wearing one.
UPDATE July 2012: A bench with wooden top on a concrete stand has been made for Johnny Barnes. All these years he had been standing and waving at the commuters and cheering at them. Recently he collapsed on one morning while greeting the passers by. Now he has a bench to sit on while waving at the people.
Visitors' Reviews and Comments
Jean (February 2017)
I arrived on the Island 2 months after Johnny went to be with the Creator and I must say I really missed to meet a man so full of love. Reading about Johnny has inspired me to fill my heart with love and more so love this Island which is filled with lots of loving people and constantly reminds me of my own home, Uganda that is....... I will never regret spending even a stitch of my life's time on this beautiful Island.
Christy Lovelace (May 2016)
I Love Johnny Barnes!!! My husband and I have been going to Bermuda on business trips the last four years. I have made it a point to walk each time to visit with Johnny and pray with him. We get caught up with our world and what is going on in his life and mine. I teach in a DAEP school in Texas. I video tape a message from Johnny to take back to my students each time.I keep a poster of him in my classroom and share his message to everyone that enters into my class. Johnny and I pray for each other as well as our families. Johnny is the true icon for Bermuda. He has such a kind, sweet heart, and wonderful spirit. He is a BEAUTIFUL soul. Johnny!!!! Thank you for making my life a little bit brighter and more peaceful.
Robin Zukowski (February 2016)
First, is Johnny still out there in the mornings, and if so, is there a bus from Hamilton going to St. Georges that will pass by him before 10 a.m.? Would love to see him again in June! Planned on taking #10 or 11, but doesn't seem like they would go past where he is.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) February 2016
Hi, he is not regular these days. Some services of Bus #8 between Hamilton and dockyard pass by the place where he is in the mornings.
Primrose Wylde (June 2013)
As yet I haven't visited Bermuda. But I did teach in Jamaica in the mid'60's for 3 years and LOVED the Islands. For the down to earth people who were SO, SO friendly everywhere I and my family went. I saw a VIDEO OF JOHNNY BARNES maybe a year ago now- so in 2012. He has been on my mind, on and off since then. We TOTALLY need more people to spread the word of LOVE so Mother Earth's Children can 'Wake Up' to be who they truly are. My youngest daughter's Mother- in -law is from Bermuda, so I do feel connected. You are Blessed to have this Angel from Heaven with you :) Johnny speaks totally from The Heart. Have blessed day. Love Peace and Harmony,
Lynn Wells, London, UK (July, 2012)
I live in London, England. On August 3rd 1998, my then fiancé and I visited Bermuda and married on the sand at Horseshoe Bay. It was a wonderful day and a memorable holiday. The next day we visited the delightful Johnny Barnes and he gave us such a lovely welcome and said a prayer to bless our marriage. Then, in 2011 I returned with our daughter to introduce her to the island and to Johnny Barnes. Again, we all said a prayer together on the roundabout as the drivers rushed by.
By luck, we had the opportunity to return again the following year (2012) and made it our priority to visit Johnny on his roundabout and once again he gave us such a warm and wonderful welcome. I send Johnny a birthday card each year and include the photos that we have taken. I have no idea if he receives them but they haven't been returned to me so I'm hoping he has them.
One thing that puzzles me - his year of birth is logged as 1924 which would make him 88 years old but I keep seeing him referred to as 89 years old. Which is correct? I was hoping to visit again around about his 90th birthday but I'm unsure whether he's 90 next year (2013) or in 2014. Anyway, God Bless Jonny Barnes - every country should have one!!
: Here is a visitor who met with Johnny Barnes, wishing him on his 88th birthday. She came to visit Bermuda from Germany.
A Pastor on The Word Network showed this short documentary as he was preaching. Johhny Barnes is an awesome man. We need more people in the world like Johnny Barnes, the world would be a better place to live in. I hope that Mr. Barnes is doing well.