In a campaign to fight loneliness, a group known as HugTrain will be offering free hugs to anyone who wants one beside the Golden Gate Bridge Tuesday night, prior to and during the New Year's Eve fireworks show.
HugTrain — which is sometimes just a one-man campaign — has been making annual trips across North America during the holiday season for 10 years, and this is the 11th annual trip, which makes its San Francisco stop at 11:30 p.m. tonight at the vista point on the south side of the bridge. The HugMaster for the New Year's Eve event will be Anton Zyngier, who posted a GoFundMe that is almost fully funded to help pay for the tour.
"Study after study has shown that loneliness is causing premature deaths at similar levels to cigarettes and obesity," Zyngier writes. "Not only is it a major risk factor for suicide and an important contributor to anxiety and depression but it also has significant effects on our cardiovascular health, our brain function and our immune systems to name just a few. Hugs have been shown to have a positive impact on all of the health issues that loneliness causes... They’re also a moment of shared vulnerability which increase trust and gives people a sense of belonging."
The gathering tonight will include both free hugs and the midnight fire display, which the group will be watching from afar, as opposed to with the throngs on the Embarcadero. Those who want to join are instructed to put RG5F+7J Presidio, San Francisco, CA into Google Maps, and find the group by the flagpole near the vista point.
Below is a video produced by HugTrain's co-founders in 2016.