Despite the snow, Ayla Cooper (from left to right) Greta Cooper and Monique Saebels were ready to hand out hugs Boxing Day, Dec. 28 at The Sails downtown. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Free hugs given in Kelowna to honour lost friend

Free hugs will be given out at The Sails in memory of Wayne Cobb

A Boxing Day tradition of free hugs continues.

Monique Saebels was one of the first people to gather at The Sails in downtown Kelowna on Boxing Day, offering free hugs in memory of a friend.

“We come out here every Boxing Day in order to do this event in honour of our friend Wayne Cobb who passed away. He was a big hugger, so that’s why we’re here,” she said.

The number of hugs given out changes each year, along with about 20 to 30 huggers.

“We love doing it,” Saebels said.

Greta Cooper, and her daughter Ayla, travelled from Vernon to give out hugs, saying they’re “huggers” and that they just like to give out hugs.

What started out as a way to honour a friend has grown into a way to get reconnected, according to team leader Angie Cowry.

Close friends and family members of Wayne Cobb have hugged strangers for nine years as the man who passed away tragically wanted to take part in an event like this. Cobb believed in paying the good and the love forward, she said in an emailed statement.

READ MORE: Free hugs today in Kelowna

So many of us are overwhelmed with the holidays. The pressures, the presents, the spending over our limits and then add family into it, Cowry said.

This time of year doesn’t always bring out the best—it reminds us what was or what we lost. So if we can brighten someone else day and our own with free hugs, why not? Cowry said.

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