This Father Gave ‘Free Dad Hugs’ at Pride Parade

June 19, 2019
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More than 700 hugs in less than three hours.

You could say the crowd was receptive to Howie Dittman - a Pennsylvania man wearing a shirt that read ‘Free Dad Hugs.’ He became surrogate dad for a day at the Pittsburgh LGBTQ pride parade knowing that many in attendance were estranged from their parents.

He describes the experience in a poignant Facebook post, which reads in part:

“Imagine that your child feels SO LOST FROM YOU that they sink into the arms of a complete stranger and sob endlessly just because that stranger is wearing a shirt offering hugs from a dad. Think of the depths of their pain. Try to imagine how deep those cuts must be.

Please don't be the parent of a child that has to shoulder that burden. I met WAY too many of them, of all ages, today.”

Dittman says that he has since been contacted by hundreds of parents who have since gotten in touch with their child.