It felt good.

To start with, there was mostly a sign and a small group of organizers – Joyce Mayorga, Samantha Ann Patterson and Praveen Sinha – with really good intentions. They stood in a small, flatter section of Dolores Park near Dolores Street waiting for a crowd to gather.

Joyce Mayorga explained why the group hug:

Other picnickers relaxing nearby looked on as if they awaited some form of entertainment.

Photo by Lydia Chávez

Photo by Lydia Chávez

The organizers had 2,000 people showing interest on Facebook, Mayorga explained to a TV crew, but only 260 or so were expected to show up. It would be fine if 30 showed up, she said.

At 3 p.m. there was the issue of how to start a group hug and for a moment, with potential huggers on one side and organizers on the other holding a large banner made of butcher block paper, it appeared that the group hug might succumb to a failure of nerve.

Photo by Lydia Chávez

Photo by Lydia Chávez

Then,  organizers just started hugging one another and formed a circle and soon people who had been watching on blankets got up and walked into it – some ran, others came out of the circle while newcomers joined in. One in the group, broke loose and hugged me.  Stop taking photos, she said laughing.

Another hugger offered an unsolicited hug.

It was funny and sweet. I can’t tell you how many people hugged over the course of an hour because I had to leave return to make a promised polenta cake.

Photo by Lydia Chávez

Photo by Lydia Chávez

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Photo by Lydia Chávez

Photo by Lydia Chávez