IUPUI student brings hugs to downtown Indianapolis

Cassandra Hanes offered free hugs on Monument Circle.

Cassandra Hanes insists she's not a very "touchy person," but she is fast becoming one.

Over the noon hour Monday, the IUPUI student stood on Monument Circle in front of Starbucks with a sign that read "free hugs."

Before she got started, she shared her prediction.

"I expect a lot of hugs, but expect more resistance here than IUPUI or Race for the Cure, a little more questioning from people," she said.

Many people did stop to offer a hug saying, "awesome," "great" and "everyone needs a hug."

But several others looked at her perplexed, some asking what the heck she was doing. She told them she was giving the free hugs "for fun."

Actually, Hanes was also doing some research for a class project "to demonstrate how receptive different groups are to touch and to demonstrate the power of social media."

Hanes also collected hugs at Race for the Cure and on the IUPUI campus. During her 45 minutes or so on the Circle, she counted 50 hugs, including one from Lance Drake, who literally swept her off her feet and gave her a big bear hug.

"Everyone was walking past her acting like she wasn't serious," said Drake.

Hanes laughed, "That was the best hug. I got my back cracked. I feel better."

Her running tally as of Monday? 350 hugs and a whole lot of smiles.