The “Hug Train” stopped in Solana Beach for the holiday season.
This was the seventh year Arié Moyal spent the holidays hugging his way across North America, but it was his first time stopping in the seaside city, where he gave “free hugs” Dec. 30 at the Solana Beach Transit Center.
“Financial difficulties, family issues, seasonal affective disorder and social isolation make the holidays particularly stressful for many people, and sometimes the smallest things — like a hug — can make the biggest difference,” Moyal said in a press release. “I want to inspire others to spread some joy, and to know that doing small things can make a big difference in their communities.”
In an effort to raise spirits throughout the holiday season, Moyal has traveled across North America giving hugs since 2009. This year, Moyal left his hometown of Montreal in mid-December and made nearly 30 stops, including Solana Beach, which is the furthest from home he’s ever been.
Along the way he stopped in Washington, D.C., for Christmas and in San Francisco for New Year’s Eve, where he gave people hugs on the Golden Gate Bridge. The three-and-a-half-week trip concluded Jan. 7 in Montreal.
Moyal’s annual Hug Train trips are funded through a combination of crowdfunding, the support of close friends and volunteers from around the world, and money he saves throughout the year. Moyal said he plans to continue the tradition for years to come. A Hug Train app is now available for download and a documentary on the movement is currently in development.
“The act of hugging lays the biological and structure for connection to other people,” Moyal said. “We need that more today than ever before.”
For more about the Hug Train, visit hugtrain.org.