JOHN THE PEACE WIZARD
In 2002, when the United States first contemplated invading Iraq again, former-marine John Bromett, 79, grabbed a marker and wrote “PEACE” on a large piece of cardboard and joined a protest on Alabama Hill in Bellingham, Washington.
“I haven’t had much of a reason to put [the sign] down since,” Bromett said with a laugh. “It kind of just grew on my shoulder.”
In the 17 years since, a peace sign has been his constant companion. From Rockport to Orcas Island to Costa Rica to Romania, Bromett seeks to spread his simple message of peace.
Throughout northwest Washington state, John Bromett is better known as John the Peace Wizard, or as his friends call him, simply “The Wizard.”
In a small rucksack, the Wizard carries stacks of post cards with his photo on the front and the words “peace, love, joy, truth, good health, happiness” written on the back. When he meets someone new, he’ll leave them with a card and his positive message to remember him by.
Every time he gets a honk of support for his peace message from a passing car, he’ll respond with a smile, a wave and a kick of his foot into the air.
“It gives me the utmost joy if I can just give somebody one moment of smiling,” the Wizard said.
On any given week, the Wizard is found at his home deep up the Cascade Highway in Rockport, sitting at the Bagelry in downtown Bellingham or at the weekly peace vigil in Mount Vernon. He relies on his own two feet, hitchhiking and the bus system to take him where he needs to go.
The Wizard is stopped by Ms. Roozen, a 3rd-grade teacher at Concrete Elementary School, as she drives through downtown Bellingham. Every Tuesday morning, the Wizard heads to her classroom and sings with the children to share his positivity with them.
Whenever the Wizard runs into someone he knows and they ask the customary, "Hi, how are you?" he'll respond every time saying, "I'm splendid. I've never been happier, healthier, wealthier, wiser or older, and I'm still young."
The Wizard reads his sheet music for “Imagine” by John Legend prior to auditioning for a solo in the Kulshan Chorus’ upcoming tour to Norway.
"The Kulshan Chorus has a reputation for singing to a social issues like justice, peace and passion," the Wizard said. "It kind of fits in well with my peace sign."
The Wizard has travelled with the chorus to Costa Rica, Romania and more places around the world. He always brings the sign along with him and changes the word peace to the local language. For his trip to Norway in June 2019, the sign reads "FRED."
The Wizard stands on the steps of City Hall in Bellingham, Wash., and sings a stream of positive words to the tune of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” at the Release the Mueller Report rally on Thursday, April 4, 2019.
“Negative thoughts can destroy you faster than junk food,” the Wizard said.
A handmade stain-glass peace dove hangs in the window of his trailer in Rockport, Wash., in the depths of the North Cascades.
"It doesn't make you feel good. it destroys you, if you don't act with compassion, if you act out of hatred," the Wizard said. "I really believe that love can overcome hatred."