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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Free Hugs, Union Square

Free hugs, NYC
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.

Related posts: It's a Free Country After All, Now on Sale, in Midtown and What's Scrolling in Midtown.

12 comments:

TC said...

Maybe it's just me, but I'm not comfortable with the idea of having a hug from a strange, without any special context.

Sujit Sudhi said...

Good shot. Great light.

Olivier said...

beau b&w, cela nous fait revenir au bon temps du "peace and love" ;o)

Kitty said...

Ha, TC I know what you mean.
It would be a little weird to hug just for hugging's sake.

I have to say while I was there, there were at least 3 Free Hug people there, and I didn't see a tremendous amount of hugging action going on. New Yorkers can be a skeptical bunch, and they were sniffing it out as suspiciously as I was.

Welcome Sujit!
Thanks, it was very bright that day.

You have a wonderful photography blog, yourself.

Hi Olivier!
Who can thumb their nose at peace and love? I particularly like the 60's-esque sign, which suits the cause.

Lily Hydrangea said...

I love this photo...so sweet.
I can't imagine hugging some creepy looking character, but that guy in your photo looks huggable. & creepy is subjective too, right? so I guess if you need a hug you just have to take your chances. My chiropractor had a sign in his office that said everyone needs at least twelve hugs a day to stay in optimal health.

Buenos Aires Photoblog said...

Very nice picture. I really like these free-hugers. Some hugs a day keeps the shrink away... (:

James said...

For some reason this reminds me of something from the 1970's. I wouldn't want to be hugged by a stranger, but I'd like to take pictures of this group.
Nice and very interesting find Kitty!

You asked about the inside of the Philadelpia church in my blog. Unfortunately I was in a hurry so I didn't go in.
Have a nice day.

Fancy for nyc said...

Some times you just need a hug from a complete stranger.

Jodie said...

your blog is quaint, i like it!

i believe free hugs came from my home town of sydney where this one man called juan mann started holding a placard offering free hugs. i think i may have been offered one before...next time im around union sq i'll keep my eyes peeled!

Bradford said...

I was wondering what that was all about! enjoyed perusing your pages...

Andrea said...

I'd love a free hug please !!!
I might have to seek out representatives of this worthy movement on the streets of London - especially on a cold, rainy Monday... It might cheer me up :-)

Anonymous said...

When I was down and alone.i need someone to hug me....to release the pain in my heart.