"Hands Across America" took place on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in 1986. It was a "kumbaya" type event in which participants nationwide held hands to form a human chain extending across the U.S. (although it bypassed large chunks of real estate, such as New England and Florida). Taking its cue from the "Feed the World", "We Are the World" and "Live Aid" humanitarian events of the previous two years, "Hands" raised money for hungry and homeless Americans. Rather than collect money from sponsors as walkathons did, each "Hands" participant paid a $10 tax-deductible fee/contribution.
By nature I'm not a "joiner" so I didn't participate, but I was curious nonetheless to be an observer, so after spending the early part of the afternoon getting some sun in my tiny garden/patio I walked over to the West Side Highway in Greenwich Village to watch part of Manhattan's link of the chain form. Although the event was dripping in media hype, it was happening so near by that I controlled my eye-rolling and strolled over to the highway at 2:30 to observe the chain forming at 3:00. I bumped into a friend, Skip, and we walked along the line of participants getting in position to see if we might know any of them.
With so much of a build up, it was surprising that it was over in just 15 minutes, and the crowd dispersed rather quickly. (As Peggy Lee might have queried, "Is that all there is to an over-hyped charity event?") All told it was estimated that 7 million participated nationwide, with 100,000 of the participants coming from the New York metro area.
On the walk back to my apartment I stopped into a shop called the Statue of Liberty Gallery on Hudson St., which had recently opened to capitalize on the statue's centennial celebration. I bought myself a little 4-inch rubberized Lady Liberty. Once home I changed into my running clothes and headed up to Central Park (via subway) where I ran around the roadway that circles the park (five miles).