THE SPECKTATOR

Sealed With a Hug

The one national holiday I can truly embrace

Group hug with Cyndi Nunn, Moonpie and Channel 4 meteorologist Richard Nunn
Hugging 16-time PGA winner and my fave golfer Jim Furyk (for the record, he got clearance from wife, Tabitha, first)
Hugs with friends Liz, Marlo, Marc and Tina
Kid hugs from Amelia and Briggs
Hugging former Jaguars fullback Greg Jones (P.S. He smells good.)
Hugs with friends Michelle, Bonnie, Ray and Amy
Hugging people I don't even know
Hugs from local media superstars Mark Kaye (WAPE 95.1 FM), Nikki Kimbleton (WJXT Channel 4) and Melissa Ross (WJCT 89.9 FM)
Hugging country music star Darryl Worley
Hugging cats who clearly don't want to be hugged
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Kerry Speckman shares her unique perspective and observations on people, places and events on the First Coast and beyond. She's also the 2012 winner of Jacksonville Dancing With the Stars, so she's got that going for her.

Contact Kerry by email or follow her on Twitter.

National Hug Week is over, and my personal quest to hug it out was a success. I didn't keep an official tally, but I'd say I averaged 10 embraces a day, which, according to the Hug for Health Foundation's daily hug prescription, puts me well on my way toward personal "growth."

In all honesty, it wasn't that difficult for me as I consider myself a "hugger" anyway. That's not to say, however, the holiday was without challenges, like having to hug folks with garlic hummus breath or funky-smelling dreadlocks (which I did). And then there were the people who stayed in the embrace so long it became awkward. Or the guy who said, "That wasn't a real hug!" then came at me full-frontal for a more satisfying one. (Looking on the bright side: If it weren't for these experiences, I might never have realized that "hug" is an anagram for "ugh.")

The fact that National Hug Week coincided with The Players Championship was a major bonus for a stalker such as myself since it gave me a legitimate reason to hug Adam Scott, Luke Donald and Jonas Blixt. Unfortunately, they were out of arms reach — literally — all week, so I had to fill my celebrity creeper quota by hugging other athletes, a country music star and local media personalities (check the photo gallery above).

More than anything, National Hug Week made me more aware of hugging the people I should be hugging every time I see them: my friends. Up until this week, the friends I see the most are the ones I hug the least, probably because I see them all the time. Because of this experience, I'll hug the people who mean the most to me the most.

And I promise my cats, Fonzie Ann Mildred and Puddy Frederick Renaire, that I will do my best to hug them less. As you can see in the photo gallery, they're not big fans.

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