John Higbie is a man who has fallen on hard times. Once the owner of a two-bedroom house in Las Vegas where he danced for many years, he now lives on the streets of Santa Monica.
However, do not, for one moment, think that his spirits have been dampened, as he has dubbed himself “The Official Unofficial Greeter for Santa Monica,” and indeed that is what he seems to do. He picks up litter, some of which winds up on his bike, creating a unique work of art. A most articulate Higbie has social and political opinions. “I’m concerned about the decline of the moral fiber of the American people and the disappearance of common courtesies such as saying ‘God Bless You’ when someone sneezes or a simple ‘thank you.’” He believes God is in control of all things, cautions children “not to cross against the light” and bears a warm smile that immediately closes up the divide between you and a “street person.”
As we spoke, a guitarist on the Third Street Promenade began playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” at which point Higbie excused himself as he was compelled to dance. As he moved to the music, the years of training and performing were clearly evident as was his deep enjoyment of the moment.
John Higbie hangs out on the Third Street Promenade. You can easily spot him near his bike wearing a colorful hat, a feather boa and a gleaming smile. We could all use a dose of John Higbie’s optimistic outlook – especially on those days we are feeling a bit sorry for ourselves.