Attended free hugs campaign through couchsurfing community for the first time last night. I did not have an idea of what this was actually like. Really amazing! So much energy. Happy, positive experience. Therapeutic, smiled the whole time. Would do it again. Nice to see all the good people out there.
We (couchsurfers) met at 7:00 at 1522 S. Congress. I think 40 CS'rs in all showed up through out the 2 hour event...so we split into two groups. The organizer with all the official signs was late so we started out with marker on paper signs which weren't very visible. About twenty minutes later, someone dropped off the real signs: white foamcore with FREE HUGS written on front and back in pink and blue paint with glitter. I think they were pretty friendly looking and suited the cause.
It was the first Thursday of the month, so people were everywhere looking at the arts and crafts for sale, going in restaurants, walking and talking past us. All types and trends. Good people watching. It was most fascinating to see people's varied responses to us. Some saw our group and grins spread instantly across their faces. They would run over, "For real?" "This is awesome" "Can I have a group hug," "Can my dog have a hug too?" Other people would keep walking by looking skeptically at our line. "Free hugs" we would say. They would keep walking. "Hand shakes?" They might smile. "High fives?" Yeah, they could do that. Often, they would go down the line high fiving everyone and before they got to the last person, they would be like, "all right, I really do want a hug after all."
The kids were the best. All you had to do was kneel down, smile, and open your arms and they would wrap their arms around your legs.
Some people came back for seconds. One girl passed by saying, "I gave all my hugs to the other group. If I took any more, I'd be stealing" "Well," one of us responded, "We have an endless supply" Another girl, upon spotting us, left her bike there in the middle of the side walk and went down the line, getting a big hug from each of us. Someone else said, "How very Austin" And one guy smiled, "this is so awesome, it makes my day. What a great thing you're doing"
"Why are you doing this?" "What organization are you part of?" "What do you want?" "Are you selling something?" People asked a lot of questions too. There were, after all, a number of hell and brimfire groups passing out fliers along S. Congress too. We had to reassure people we were not associated with them. The most energetic, extroverted girl, Courtney, became our spokesperson. "Because we give hugs. And they are free! And we like people" Sometimes she would explain more, "Because we are all part of the couchsurfing community and someone had this idea and posted it. So that's how come there are so many of us here all at once."