Life for crossing guard Judy Reese can get intense: speeding cars, police chases, rain, sleet, wind and hail.
She's suffered her fair share of abuse on the job. But not even a small tornado can keep Reese away. Something will always bring her back to Warner Avenue and Flower Street.
"The children," said Reese, 53. "They're just special."
The Santa Ana Police Department on Friday honored Reese, Dorothy Roberts and Elisa Luna for 67 combined years of helping schoolchildren cross the busy streets of Santa Ana.
Each has worked at the same school for 15 years or more.
Roberts, 82, has been hit by a car on the job. But it was just a scratch, she insists. A car knocked her down while she was crossing the children about four years ago near Standard and Edinger avenues.
As with Reese, it's the children at Madison Elementary School who bring Roberts back.
"I like the kids," she said. "They're so cute."
Luna, 64, said she enjoys talking to the children about homework from her post at Civic Center Plaza and English Street.
"I have a good group of kids," she said of the Fremont Elementary School group. "But if they get out of hand, I say, 'OK, you're going to the principal's office.' "
She laughs: "I get a thrill out of crossing the kids."
City crossing guards receive a minimum of one week's training in the field. Their performance is monitored to assure safety. They are expected to maintain a safe and orderly crossing and to reinforce pedestrian safety rules to the children.
At the ceremony Friday, City Manager David N. Ream presented the awards to these city employees for setting an example of hard work.
"Somebody told me some years ago that I was crazy for wanting to be a crossing guard," Roberts said. "But I don't know, I guess I just don't have the sense to quit."