Can you imagine sleeping outside on a night below freezing? Several people did just that, trying to get a better understanding of what it is like to be homeless.
It is the third year for the annual "Sleep Out to End Homelessness" event, organized by the non-profit organization Hartford Bags of Love.
The event began at 3 p.m. Saturday with food trucks, live music and speeches. The hard part came at 8 p.m., when the sun went down, temperatures dropped and the sleep out began.
Many of the participants said they could not imagine how difficult it would be to sleep in the cold outdoors until they experienced it firsthand.
"My heart goes out to any homeless person," Robin Pendleton, an event participant, said. "I can't imagine what they go through, just one night what we went through. To be able to go to the bathroom, or have a tent, or have extra layers of clothing, they don't."
Pendleton is a veteran, and feels particularly sympathetic to homeless vets.
"First of all, we have too many of them," he said. "In my eyes, no person should be homeless, but certainly as a veteran, I know that we should be there to help them. I know there's a lot of times they get passed off."
Organizers say the event aims to help everyone who participated develop more empathy for those who are dealing with homelessness.
The group ended their overnight stay in the park Sunday morning with a hot breakfast at a church. Organizers continued to remind them that while they can return to a warm house and a nice bed, there are hundreds of thousands of people around the country who do not have that option.