The sign was small, but the message on it was as large as life.
The kids were stationed on a sidewalk corner in Batchelor Heights, the bitter April winds numbing the skin, with rays of sunshine and the four words on that simple paper sign slowly warming up a chilly Saturday.
Drivers passed by, some oblivious to the quartet of elementary-aged boys seeking their attention, others announcing their interest with the sound of squeaking brakes and the familiar flash of red on the tail lights.
And, if those drivers slowed down enough, and squinted just so, they would see a message that, in essence, asked an eternal question via a statement.
“Honk if you’re happy!” the message read, held aloft as each boy took turns engaging with passersby.
Some drivers did indeed honk — 16 in the first quarter-hour and 101 by the time Deklan, Kash, Alex and Liam had returned to their cul de sac homes a bit later in the day.
“It’s about making people happy and making their day better,” Deklan said amid the bellow of a pickup truck’s horn.
Kash said the honking happiness happening arose as part of a dare from Alex and Liam — to see how many honks they could get and to try to make the day a little better for others.
When KTW happened upon the scene, Alex and Liam had scooted back home to create a bigger sign, the better to elicit honks and gauge the happiness of their neighbours.
The mission, Deklan added, was also born out of the kids’ realization of the emotional toll the pandemic has wrought on people.
Times are tough. Nerves are on edge. Anxiety levels are spiking. But this sign of the times did indeed put smiles on faces of those driving by.
They don’t recall meeting anybody who professed to be unhappy.
“No,” Deklan said, before allowing for the possibility. “Maybe they just didn’t honk at us.”
The kids may have been unaware that their happiness mission mirrors the focus of a United Nations endeavour. In 2011, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling on countries to measure happiness and well-being, deeming happiness a "fundamental human goal."
As the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, said in 1972: “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.”
And the kids’ message for the day? “Um, just stay happy,” Deklan said.
“Yeah, stay happy,” Kash said, nodding in agreement — and in time with the happiness honks from the road.