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Free hugs in Kelowna now a Boxing Day tradition

Click to play video: 'Hugging it out in Kelowna on Boxing Day' Hugging it out in Kelowna on Boxing Day
Hugging it out in Kelowna on Boxing Day – Dec 27, 2017

A group of about a dozen people handed out free hugs in Kelowna in what’s becoming an annual Boxing Day tradition.

The event started eight years ago as a way to remember Wayne Cobb, who died when his motorcycle hit a deer.

“[He was] just a very friendly, loving person who would give you the shirt off his back,” Kathy Meyn, a member of the Free Hug Team, said.

“I think the memory lives on every year just from community, just from this paying it forward. Just a hug, so simple yet so powerful,” hugger Barb Hunter said.

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READ MORE: Free hugs to remember Kelowna man

People’s reactions to the free hugs are mixed, Meyn said.

“Some people are great and really open to it. Other people will run from you,” she said.

For every hugger, there’s a story that stands out.

“The one that sticks with me the most was the widower who, when hugged, had shared that he hadn’t been hugged or touched in nine years,” Meyn said.

“We had a lady stop that had lost her daughter probably a month before, and she said, ‘I really needed this.’ There were about 20 of us, and we all just embraced her,” Hunter said.

Craig Penner received a hug while walking by.

“It just puts a smile on your face,” he said. “Everyone loves hugs, especially when they’re free.”

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