Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Free hugs in downtown Vancouver during the Olympics..
There's lots of action going on in Vancouver with the 2010 Olympics here and so I went down to the city to get caught up in all the festivities and fun. Red patriotism everywhere which is quite incredible for us Canadians who are usually fairly reserved, and great food and coverage of the games everywhere. While I was wandering down Granville street, past musicians and artistic displays, past human statues, and jump rope artists I came upon a sign being held by a friendly looking fellow that said "Free hugs". Well, at any moment in life - someone could use one of those so I stepped right up and even got a photo for a souvenir. The day was clear and sunny and this random act of cheerfulness was a pleasant surprise. Some may say creepy - but I just didn't get that impression. So part 2 of this story is that I was looking through our local papers and there was an article called "Free hugs create smiles during Games". It was the story about a couple of guys, one whom I apparently met named Klezli. The article coined him as the happy-go-lucky guy with the dreadlocks, big blue eyes and huge smile. He is part of the Free Hugs campaign. Something that started in Australia in 2004 by a young man using the pseudonym Juan Mann. According to his story, he was living in London and when he returned to Australia, there was no-one to greet him at the airport. Standing in the arrivals terminal and watching friends and family hug each other, he wanted to feel the same sense of connection. It took off as a world-wide thing. Klezli says he does it himself just for fun, with a chuckle. He says the best part is watching the expressions on people's faces and absorbing all the positive energy.
I didn't realize there was such a story to this whole random thing - and I like it. Not much is free these days - but a hug still is, and it's pretty much guaranteed to be well worth the money. Our city is bursting with visitors and locals alike. The sun has shone, the snow has melted and then the rain showed up that put a little more snow on our mountains. That's Vancouver, unpredictable but delightful. Come see us when the crowds are gone and you will probably even find a parking spot!