Is That A Dancer Or A Traffic Cop? Wait, He's Both

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Christmas means time for family, presents, cookies and of course, holiday traffic. All over the country, traffic cops are working overtime to keep the roads safe for last-minute shoppers.

For nearly 30 years, Tony Lepore has worked as one of those cops in Providence, R.I. But he doesn't just beckon, wave and blow a whistle; he dances — and he's got some serious moves.

Lepore told Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin that he always wanted to be an entertainer, but that wasn't easy to do in Rhode Island in the 1960s. So, he became a police offer instead. After being inspired by some progressive traffic directing by Chicago cops he saw on Candid Camera, he decided to jazz up his own directing with his personal style.

"I did this for about three days, until the Providence Journal got wind of it and came down and did [a]whole front-page spread," Lepore says. "Because people were calling the [police] station and loving it so much, they let me do it."

Though it might seem to some people that Lepore is just dancing in the street, he says every hip swivel, spin move and leg shimmy is for traffic. He says safety, however, is still paramount.

"I have to be much more cautious because I direct traffic this way," he says. "I've had a few close calls but I've never had an accident."

Lepore says that he never thought that by pursuing a career in law enforcement he'd get live out his dream of being an entertainer.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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