VIDEO: Guy offers free hugs in San Francisco

by David Spark on April 6, 2008

This is one of those “online in San Francisco” moments. Today I ran into a man in San Francisco’s Union Square holding up a giant sign that said “Free Hugs.” And guess what? That’s what he’s doing. I interviewed him as to why he was doing this, and then I got myself a free hug.

Below is a copy of his rationale for doing this per the slip of paper he handed me. I’m retyping it here verbatim.

Who is this guy and what is he doing offering FREE HUGS ?

My name is Gregory Coates and I am here today to show you that I LOVE YOU~! We live in a time where the media bombards us with all kinds of negative information about the “bad” in the world. Sometimes, as a single individual, I feel powerless to do anything about this. I am a firm believer in the human spirit and our ability to show one another that we are all connected. Connected to each other, to our beautiful Mother Earth, to a Creator…known to us by so many wonderful names. I am here today to show you and to tell you that…


I ask for nothing other than that you pass this LOVE along to 3 people today…pay it forward as it were. You can do this with just a smile, a helping hand, a kind word or yes…even a HUG! I would love to hear from you and have you tell me what you think about what I am saying here. If you received a HUG today…What did it do for you? How did it make you feel? Did you feel better after receiving and giving a HUG? You can reach me email at my email address which is

I wish you LOVE, PEACE and may you always have enough~!

Love, Gregory

And that’s why I love this city. A man can hold up a giant FREE HUGS sign for two hours in the middle of downtown San Francisco, and we let him! Gregory Coates could be San Francisco’s next Frank Chu.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandramp April 7, 2008 at 5:59 pm

truly beautiful

Steven Bidwell April 7, 2008 at 9:43 pm

This crazy man is my cousin…and he’s amazing! I miss family hugs. I can’t wait till the next reunion!! :)

Tina April 11, 2008 at 2:18 pm

How refreshing to just accept what is. Don’t try to look for some angle here, just an angel of a man, open to giving love and in return getting it back. Don’t be so shocked, all you cynics! I love YOU, Gregory Coates!

marilee July 8, 2008 at 12:16 am

hey david! no, it wasn’t him but i loved the video you shot. i suppose there are a bunch of copy cats but there is nothing wrong with more love in the world. :)

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