THE IDEA to offer “free hugs” to strangers in the streets first arrived in Slovakia a year ago. In 2013 more than 20 cities and towns participated in the initiative, which took place on June 26. Last year, volunteers exchanged 8,249 hugs, and this year the goal was to exceed this number, preferably to 14,000 hugs.
“We have prepared the biggest event so far, with about 200 volunteers,” Jaroslav Dodok, the initiator of this project in Slovakia, told the TASR newswire. He added that stressed and busy people of the 21st century tend to forget about their loved ones, about sharing and exchanging embraces, which then become a true rarity.
Dodok said that volunteers visited senior homes as well as kindergartens and hospitals, but also hugged clerks, drivers, cooks and various other people, including passengers on public transit.
The cities offering free hugs included Bratislava, Trnava, Nitra, Topoľčany, Banská Bystrica, Zvolen, Kremnica, Žiar nad Hronom, Detva, Lučenec, Rimavská Sobota, Levice, Dolný Kubín, Poprad, Martin, Nové Mesto nad Váhom, Prievidza, Trenčín, Trenčianske Teplice, Partizánske, Prešov, Kežmarok, and Svidník.
The programme offered different events in different cities: in some it involved only hugs, the SITA newswire wrote, but in Banská Bystrica, for example, a mass hug around a fountain was organised.
“Coordinators in individual towns and cities used their invention and creativity to lure as many people as possible to Hug Day,” Dodok told SITA. “We want people to have good feelings about our event – and nice memories, too.” The recounting of the event on Facebook states that altogether, 58,010 hugs were exchanged on Hug Day.
8. Jul 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská