Monday, November 5, 2007
Free Hugs Debrief - Boulder Colorado Edition
SFShenanigans and Free Hugs History: In the fall of 2006 while living in Colorado, Agent TheBeast came across this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4) of the "Free Hugs" campaign lead by Juan Mann. The simple beauty of hugging strangers, just because you can, was an infectious and intriguing idea.
Agent TheBeast wanted someone to organize an event like this in his area, but the realization came that he himself could/should be that "someone". So he sent out some emails asking friends to embark upon this social experiment with him. This rag-tag group of huggers targeted the "Fall Festival" being held on Boulder's popular Pearl Street Mall.
The event was a smashing success, with up to 15 people giving out hugs, and hundreds of people receiving hugs. There was even a gaggle of 5th grade girls who put on some impromptu-marker'ed Free Hugs t-shirts to dole out the hugs.
When Agent TheBeast joined the SFShenanigans (after having moved to San Francisco) in the Spring of 2007, he convinced the SFShenanigans that while "Free Hugs" may not be a 'shenanigan' per se, it is a very good-natured, break-social-norms-in-public type of event. The SFShenanigans agreed, and since then the SFShenanigans blog has become the new face for a San Francisco based group of huggers.
Most Recent Incarnation: Unlike the last Free Hugs event (http://sfshenanigans.blogspot.com/2007/06/free-hugs-debrief.html) that took place in San Francisco, Agent TheBeast brought the Free Hugs campaign back to Boulder's Farmer's Market while on a short weekend trip back to that city.
Via an extended network of friends, Agent TheBeast was able to round up several fantastic huggers: Agent Del, Agent Bobalicious, Agent Michelle, Agent Robin, and Agent Katherine. We also had a couple of "ringers" in our midst, as Agent UncleDave brought along three of the most well received huggers: Agent Kaylee, Agent Shanley, and Agent Evie.
Whilst standing as a loose group of huggers, the young lady in charge of the Farmer's Market came by to speak to the group. Some feared for the worst, but not to worry! "I love you guys. I really want you guys to stay here all day, just please make sure to leave a path so people can get by." How's that for an "official sanction"?
Agent Del really upped the ante as far as competitive hugging is concerned. First, he shows up with an eminently huggable orange fuzzy coat. Then, he slashes his prices, adding "10% Off" to his sign. That's a great deal at twice the price! Luckily, there was such a high demand for hugs that day that none of the other huggers went under-employed!
Yes, many hugs were had that day. (Even doggie-hugs!) At the end of the day all the huggers left tired but smiling.
Wrap-Up: One of the best things about the Free Hugs campaign is how catchy it is. Agent UncleDave reports that his three Agents are feeling empowered and still enthusiastic, asking "When can we do it again?"
The answer: Anytime, girls. Anytime.