BRITISH COLUMBIA

#VanKiss Mistletoe Fosters A Sense Of Belonging, Community: Creators

12/16/2014 05:34 EST | Updated 12/17/2014 03:59 EST

Even though you're surrounded by people, it's easy to feel alone in a big, bustling city like Vancouver — especially around the holidays.

Determined to change that is a group of anonymous people who call themselves the #VanKiss elves. You've probably seen their work.

Their #VanKiss project, where they erect mistletoe poles around Vancouver's West End neighbourhood, is in its third year.

"We hope that this project will stimulate connections and encourage people to participate," one founder told The Huffington Post B.C. in an email. "Ideally, the project will create a stronger sense of place and foster a greater sense of belonging within our community."

This year, they set up 32 mistletoe locations, a major bump from last year's 10. Some places are hidden and secluded, while others are on busy street corners.

#VanKiss 🎄💌💋

A photo posted by Amy Joy Bracamontes (@amyjoyalvarado) on


"This project is about sharing a special moment with people around us, not the creators of the project," he said, explaining why they choose to remain anonymous. "The mistletoe is just a prop; it is the people who participate that make this project unique and special."

The group constructs, paints, and installs all of the mistletoe brackets themselves. In 2012 and 2013 they paid for all of the materials, too; this year they were approached by some random admirers who offered to help fund the initiative.

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So, it's safe to say the project has struck a chord in the hearts of Vancouverites.

"We liked the idea of urban mistletoe because it is free, fun, and captured the joy of the holidays," the elf said.

"When we were constructing the original two mistletoe brackets [in 2012], we added the #VanKiss sign as an afterthought. We love that the hashtag reinvents this tradition and makes it more relevant, accessible, and shareable on social media. Before we could even finish installing the first mistletoe bracket, someone was taking a photo."

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EARLIER ON HUFFPOST:

Characters We'd Put Under The Mistletoe