Happy Halloween! There was Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington (PSK) today, my favourite event in Toronto. The streets of Kensington Market becomes pedestrian-only for the last Sunday of every month in summer.
Okay, technically, we can’t say this is still summer seeing that it was snowing in the morning! Anyway, I was pumped. I started a tradition of doing Free Hugs at PSK in 2008 and today was the last PSK for the year. And who knows, maybe the last time I organize Free Hugs in Toronto as well.
There were loads of people signed up for the event but seeing that there had been huge Halloween parties the last two nights, I had a sneaky suspicion that I would be doing Free Hugs by myself this time. Doing Free Hugs with a group is simply amazing, it draws people in and the energy it creates is almost intoxicating. Doing Free Hugs by yourself is not nearly as fun, unless you’re at Burning Man. But I had come back from Europe early for this, so I was committed. I also was doing a special combo Free Hugs + Love Carpet which I thought was a good way to get people who didn’t like physical contact to participate in the positive vibes.
The Free Hugs itself started slow. A brown guy standing by himself on a street corner in Toronto, giving away hugs is a hard sell. Even the white guy selling chocolate nearby was having more success than me. One couple did offer to buy me coffee and something to eat however, which I politely declined. I’m a professional and didn’t want onlookers to think Free Hugs was a scam to get people to buy me coffee. Besides, I think the couple thought I was homeless. Oh wait, technically I am.
Anyway, The Laundry Tarts turned up to help with the Love Carpet and that attracted a huge crowd for a while. It was awesome actually. Some people wrote inspirational quotes, while others drew hearts and peace signs. Lots of little kids got into it too but their hearts looked more like cars. And then there were a couple of teenagers who started tagging the ground in chalk. I don’t know which was funnier to watch, the kids or the teenagers. And one guy was convinced that the white chalk in my hand was a cigarette and that I was holding out from sharing. So I finally handed him the piece of chalk. He looked disappointed.
We went through all the chalk in about an hour and soon the crowd dispersed. A couple of CouchSurfers had arrived by then and we did some more hugs. But soon after the cold weather started getting to me. It was 2C after all. And I don’t like being cold. And I was dressed as Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and that’s more suited to summer wear. So I decided to “retire” early and handed over my Free Hugs sign (which I had made at Burning Man) to The Laundry Tarts, which I felt was like passing on the torch. I asked them to carry on the tradition of doing Free Hugs and Love Carpets at Pedestrian Sundays. I hope they will!