Councilman Ed Gallo introduced an extraordinary man at the State of the City event at the California Center for the Arts last week.
Gallo was about to read his remarks when Dan Naylor came up on stage to receive a public service honor.
“How come you’re not wearing your vest?” Gallo asked, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Downtown business people know Naylor from his unique form of public service, picking up trash along Grand Avenue.
Naylor suffers from a traumatic brain injury, which causes him to speak very slowly, otherwise, he seems bright and on top of things.
After starting his one-man campaign to clean up the avenue, two guys, Bud and Dan, of the Public Works Department noticed him. They found that he had a sense of civic pride so they had a custom safety vest made for him with the city logo and the words “Dan the Man” on the back.
He quickly became a local celebrity, emceeing for performers and working at Grand Avenue’s Kettle Coffee & Tea.
“Just about every business owner downtown knows and respects Dan for his positive attitude and strong work ethic,” Gallo said, before giving him the public service award. … he has not let his disability get in the way of living his life to the fullest and helping others.”
Naylor, who started cleaning Grand in 2014, said he learned public service as a student member of the Kiwanis Club at Oceanside High School.
“We used to go out and pick up beaches and stuff,” he said. “We were trying to make a better environment.”
“I help all the businesses up and down Grand Avenue as much as I can, plus I help at the Farmers Market,” he added. Dan helps members of the Escondido Arts Coalition set up booths at the Tuesday afternoon outdoor market.
Of his job at the Kettle, he said, “I’m not very good at making food or brewing coffee, but they made a special position for me, I’m the sign twirler and I do marketing for the Kettle.”
Check out his Facebook page. He does poetry and has an off-the-wall sense of humor.
“If everybody thought like I did, the world would be a much better place,” he declared. “I love helping people.”