Photo by myself in Union Square.
There were several people brandishing 'Free Hugs' signs around this public space for no apparent reason.
I was very suspicious of what the catch was. Did I have to sign my name anywhere? Would I get a lecture about a political group?
It turns out there are many public Free Hugs events staged to make everyone feel good. A number of groups sponsor these spontaneous events, such as The Hug Alliance, Hug Nation and several groups on Facebook.
Each group takes credit for the idea. Hug Nation began in 2001. declaring that spontaneous hugs should go around Tuesdays at 1pm, regardless of where you are. Juan Mann, who started the Hug Alliance, drew up a sign in 2004 simply because he needed a hug.
Difficult to patent the idea, of course. What's clear among all the groups is that they share the intent to brighten up peoples' day, free of charge.
So if you see a 'Free Hug' sign, rest assured. There's no catch except that you enjoy the hug and hug back.
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