'Free hugs' for Oak Parkers next month

Local guitar teacher hopes to inspire closer community connections

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Sick of what he says is a lack of “social connection” in the community, Oak Park resident Kevin Reid plans to start hugging random strangers next month.

Reid, a local guitar teacher, says he was inspired by the “Free Hugs Campaign,” a social movement started by an Australian man back in 2004.

On May 1 starting at noon, Reid will be stationed in Scoville Park, offering free hugs to any passersby, according to a press release. He picked that date because it is also “Global Love Day,” which is sponsored by the nonprofit The Love Foundation.

“I’ve always enjoyed hugging people when I meet them,” Reid said in the press release. “It reflects the love I have for others and my worldview that we are one global family. This issue of social disconnection on the streets has bothered me for years, and it’s getting worse with everyone plugged into their iPods and cellphones.”   

CONTACT: mstempniak@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

14 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

OP Resident  

Posted: April 27th, 2011 1:34 AM

Kevin, I appreciate your response and if your "Hug-In" puts a little love someone's heart; I'm all fot it! Enjoy your day. And I hope the rain stops.

Kevin Reid  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 4:32 PM

OP Resident - I understand your feelings about the atrocities of war and those that foster it and I applaud your compassion and concern about the issue of extreme poverty. I've done what I can by maintaining the sponsorship of 2 children through CCF for over 25 years. Offering 'free hugs' is a simple, friendly gesture of loving kindness for my community. It doesn't address those huge issues, but if I can add to the quality of someone's day with a hug or a smile, I feel there's value to that.

Kevin Reid  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 4:30 PM

AnneB - Thanks.

Kevin Reid  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 4:27 PM

ChatkaR - Love the videos, too. I've never done this before, but watching them made me feel the same way, so I wanted to give it a try. Stop by and say hi. There'll be an extra sign, if you want to try it, too.

Kevin Reid  

Posted: April 26th, 2011 4:26 PM

David - I always ask first. Not planning on running around 'hugging random strangers'. Just passively "offering" a hug to those interested, via a smile and a sign that says "FREE HUGS. TanyaC - Great idea! In the release I invited community members to "make it point to smile and say hi to the people we pass on the street", instead of ignoring each other, which I observe as the norm.

But I'm a doctor...  

Posted: April 25th, 2011 11:00 AM

If anyone is interested, I will be giving complementary cancer screenings that same day. I'll be in back of the Comcast Building on Madison. I'll be the one in the trench coat.

OP Resident  

Posted: April 22nd, 2011 7:25 PM

You are right, Anne B. It is "pretty good" in Oak Park. I'd say even better than that. But when there are 1.7 billion people living in absolute poverty and even more trying to survive while living in a battlefield; it's tough to get enthused about some fella giving hugs. How that makes any real difference or contributes to aiding the oppressed is something you and I see differently. No sour grapes intended. Just a sad commentary. Now, go get your hug and stay loose. And please don't you worry.

Anne B. from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 22nd, 2011 5:07 PM

I love Oak Park, but boy oh boy, some people will snipe about anything. We have it pretty good here in Oak Park, so why such sour reactions? I don't hug random strangers, but Mr. Reid's intent is sweet. Perhaps he ought to offer backrubs instead - some of these grousers are wound a little too tightly!

OP Resident  

Posted: April 21st, 2011 9:59 PM

I would ask Mr. Reid to keep his hands to himself and suggest he could better honor "Global Love Day" by joining an anti-war movement. IPods and cell phones are not responsible for the millions of innocents being killed by the warmongers.

ChatkaR from River Forest  

Posted: April 21st, 2011 8:53 PM

Congratulations! This is very popular all over the world - Italy, Japan, etc. Just go to U-Tube and have a look "Free Hugs". I love to watch it. It gives you a warm feeling.

TanyaC  

Posted: April 21st, 2011 7:08 PM

Can't we do a Village Smile Day. I can't say I'll stop by Scoville for a hug. But I can smile at anyone I see.

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 21st, 2011 6:07 PM

He has to buy me dinner first.

David Hammond from Oakpark.com/Dining/Blogs  

Posted: April 21st, 2011 4:38 PM

I'm sure this gentleman means well, but hugging (except for family) is my least favorite way of greeting people. I think a hug has to be earned, and to hug a stranger is just not something I'd be comfortable doing. A handshake with eye contact works best for me. Still, as I said, this guy's heart is probably in the right place; I just hope he asks first.

Anon  

Posted: April 21st, 2011 3:12 PM

Creepy.

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