“How ya doin. How ya been?”Mike on a Bike
As in many summers gone by, I will spend every Thursday night in Harmony Square decked in my Captain Kindness suit, helping to provide family flavor to the movie nights. And every week, Mike on a Bike is there. Of course he is you say. Because Mike is everywhere PEOPLE are. He cruises Brantford’s most famous bike, pedaled by it’s most famous Mike through the crowd, waving like its the arrival of the Queen of England on a tour of the colonies. By the end of the night, Mike On a Bike will have shaken 200 hands, inquired of the well-being of 200 more, danced to the delight of the masses, eaten a free sausage from the Freedom House tent and pedaled off into the night to rest up... so as to repeat the process.
I marvel at what he does. He has the crowd-handling skills of a seasoned politician without the selfish ambition. He has the charm of a casanova without the pretension. He invokes crowd joy en masse and the “Hey there’s a celebrity!” rush of adrenaline that I remember getting when I’d spot Wayne Gretzky shopping for last minute Christmas gifts in the Lynden Park Mall on Christmas Eve. Dude is one smooth customer... in a crisp white Mike Foligno esc helmet.
I hypothesized to the Brantford Facebook and Twitter braintrust a while back that Mike on a Bike was EASILY one of the top five most recognized people in Brantford. I found few arguments that held water. So I brainstormed and asked “Why is Mike on a Bike” this popular? How does he do it? How did this local man of mystery seemingly accidentally become somebody people love? Here were a few crowd-sourced answers.
He's friendly to everyone no matter who they are. He isn't afraid to be nice!Brayden Beattie
I can't say I have ever seen Mike in a bad mood....nor have I seen him treat anyone differently. He always says hi to everyone regardless of size, image, race...it really doesn't matter.Paul Moore
He doesn't seem to have much fear of what people think; He is consistent with his presence all throughout the city, for YEARS with that jolly-good attitude. A consistent presence changes the atmosphere, and he seems to make Brantford just a tad bit happier!Rebecca Frank
Mike on a Bike has the innocence of a child. Kids happily smile, wave and say hi to strangers, until their parents tell them of the evil of the world. It's like he conveys that childlike faith in people and his friendly smiles seem to be quite contagious. Who can see him and not laugh or smile and say "Hi! I'm good Mike, how YOU doin?"Anonymous
It is rare these days that people will greet you with more than a nod or look, much less introduce themselves and show genuine interest in your response. Mike has skills that most of us don't have but secretly wish we didBonnie Carnahan
When I put on my shoes I think of Mike because I know he'd like them!Jessalyn Milford
Mike and Walter Gretzky are known in all age demographics. My children, who are 9 & 10 could identify both, as could my grandparents, who are 89 & 84.Kelly Szczur
I just know this. My daughter asked who he was and I said "That's Mike, he's kind of a celebrity" and he said "yup yup I'm a celebrity" and proceeded to pretend to start his bike up like a motorcycle "gotta kick it into gear" at Dairee Delite one night. There's something about him that brings us all together. He compliments everyone's shoes. Says hi to everyone, he's always got a smile and really, he's funny. What more could we want?Sarah McClelland
We are so used to not engaging with the people around us in our society that when someone goes out of their way to greet you it is off-putting, and really great at the same time. Its the power of "hey how you doing". The fact that Mike has a handicap allows him access to places that normally would not be socially acceptable to go. And it works because deep down we all crave human contact but normally we would be suspicious of a stranger talking to us or our children but in Mike's case he has the ability to break down those walls because our his genuine cheerfulness.Martin Chiarot
I think Mike is loved because he’s in your life FIRST. Mike makes the first move. There are stories of Mike simply walking into the backyard barbeques of complete strangers and grabbing a burger off the grill with a simple, “How ya doin? How ya been?” as his ticket to the party. And he’s welcomed and embraced.
Mike in many ways is a personification of a powerful principle. John, one of Jesus’s best friends, described the amazing act of Christ’s socially disruptive, revolutionary and historically pure love this way:
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood”.John 1:14 (The Message)
A written conceptual principal coming to life. I think we rally around Mike, because we crave the knowledge that someone cares enough to “move into our neighborhood” and invite us to a barbeque and ask how we are. Mike is a very ordinary … yet absolutely EXTRAORDINARY … man who makes Brantford a better place through his kindness. And what Mike does... you can do too.