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Surprise visitors make Free Hug event extra special

Volunteers gave out free hugs in downtown Kelowna on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, 2015.
Image Credit: Contributed
December 28, 2015 - 8:00 PM

KELOWNA – A group of warm-hearted Kelowna residents giving out free hugs downtown on Boxing Day helped make the holidays extra special for two visiting American families.

Event organizer for the last five years Angie Clowry says the families, one from Chicago and one from Florida, were walking downtown when they saw Clowry and the other volunteers offering free hugs to anyone in need.

“They were so happy,” Clowry says. “What’s a better way to remember Kelowna than that they ran into a free hugs group of people.”

Clowry estimates 30 volunteers hugged more than 100 people over a few hours on Boxing Day. Two of those who were hugged needed it more than ever.

The event started five years ago in honour of Wayne Cobb who died when he hit a deer while riding his motorcycle. Recently, Cobb’s mother-in-law passed away, so among those receiving the hugs were Cobb’s widow and father-in-law.

“Not everyone wants a hug,” Clowry says. “It depends on what kind of mood they’re in, that kind of thing. Some people turn around when they see us. But they obviously needed the hugs.”

For the past five years, the volunteers have been made up almost entirely of a group of friends. This year, however, there were several new faces.

“It was so random,” she says. “We had five people who heard about what we do decide to show up. That’s a first for us. They liked the idea and wanted to join in.”

Clowry says they are already planning for next year, and invites anyone who wants to join to visit their Facebook page for more information.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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