On Thursday afternoon, over 125 students joined hands to “hug the lake,” a result of a three-day, love-spreading endeavor headed by a Canadian student visiting campus and his UM friends.
According to flyers taped on patio tables throughout campus, hugging Lake Osceola was an effort by “people intent on joy and unity trying to bring the campus together.”
“Look around – everyone has a smile on their face,” said Turner Kirk, freshman, as he held hands with his peers during the event. “And what’s not to smile about?”
Although the human chain never succeeded in fully circling the lake, participants remained in good spirits, continually encouraging onlookers to hug the lake.
“It’s a shame that we have enough students on campus to make two circles around the lake, but we can’t even make one – or half of one,” Daidre Azueta, freshman, said.
The “hug the lake” concept is the brainchild of Mike Yeomans, a psychology major visiting from the University of Toronto, along with a group of UM music students and Yeomans’ former classmate J.J. Matelski.
According to Yeomans, the idea stemmed from a discussion of Miami’s “utopian atmosphere.”
“We expected to either completely circle the lake or be totally off,” Yeomans said. “But there’s no way you can lose – if one person grabs a hand and takes initiative to show happiness, then it’s all worth it.”
Nick Kruge, involved in publicizing the event, said interest was built by writing chalk messages on the campus sidewalks, distributing flyers and posting up signs on every floor of Stanford and Hecht.
Word-of-mouth advertising was also used, as Kruge and others made announcements in their classes and throughout the dorms.
“There was no real purpose for hugging the lake,” Kruge said. “It was just for fun, campus unity and to see if circling the entire lake could be done.”
Reasons for taking part in the event were unique to each individual.
Bryson Barns saw it as “a chance to hang out with other free-spirited people,” while Bryan Bindman had “an appreciation of togetherness.”
Other students saw it as an easy way to spread the love on campus.
“I got off work early to be here,” Adrien Theuer, senior, said. “I look at all these people rushing to get to class, and all I can think is, I’d never miss a hug.”
Music student Andrew Maguire thought that playing music during the event would be a good idea, so he and three other music students provided a live soundtrack of percussion and acoustic guitar by the lake.
Yeomans says he has no intention of making this a national trend.
“I have books at home – I can’t do this every week,” Yeomans said.
Perhaps the entire lake can be encircled next year, as there’s currently talk of establishing an annual “Hug the Lake” tradition.
Jorge Arauz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org; Fizaa Dosani can be contacted at email@example.com.