Overbrook's ‘Mr. Crossing Guard’ returns to post after beating cancer

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — “I’m back!” Arthur Culbreth yelled across the street.
He returned to his post this week as an Overbrook crossing guard — a dancing Overbrook crossing guard. He’s been beloved in the neighborhood since 2004.

After nine months of battling colon cancer, the 64-year-old is back to dancing and putting smiles on people's faces, just by being himself at the intersection of Haverford and Woodbine avenues.

“We like to see him dance and all of the kids go up and give him a hug,” said Edna Jones of Overbrook. “It's just so shocking to see him back. We are just so happy to see him.”

Jones' granddaughter, Mia, said Culbreth is a very nice man. 

“He bought me a mango water ice,” she enthused. 

He got the good news that he was cancer-free on his birthday — Feb. 29, a leap day — and returned to work this week.

“My little angels with dirty faces,” he laughed of his cherished schoolchildren. “They are my heart. I got to protect them. … Some of the kids crossing the street, they are grown up now, and I'm taking care of their kids now.”

Many refer to him simply as “Mr. Crossing Guard.”

“ ‘Mr. Crossing Guard’ — and I'm ‘Mr. Crossing Guard please’ when they want a water ice and pretzel,” he joked. 

Although Culbreth is staying positive and bringing smiles to many in the Overbrook area, he said he could use some help himself. His apartment became infested with bedbugs while he was in treatment, and many of his possessions were discarded. 

He said he needs clothes and would gladly accept donations (large or extra-large shirts; 30-inch waist for pants).

Regardless, he feels fortunate — and youthful.

“According to leap year, I’m 16,” he laughed. “It’s been fantastic.”