Barber paid in hugs is kicked out of Conn. park

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FILE - In this May 1, 2013 file photo, Michael Johnson, left, hugs friend Anthony Cymerys, known as Joe the Barber, in Bushnell Park in Hartford, Conn. For more than 20 years, Cymerys, 82, cut hair alfresco in Hartford for the fee of a hug. On Wednesday, June 13, 2013, Cymerys said as he was setting up, health officials and police told him and his friends, who hand out food to the needy, had to leave because they didn't have permits. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Hartford officials say they ordered an 82-year-old good Samaritan out of a city park because residents were concerned about the safety and sanitation of his free haircuts to homeless people.

But city health officials said Thursday they're trying to work with Anthony Cymerys (sih-MEHR'-is) so he can continue providing the valuable service in a more controlled environment. They also say Cymerys isn't a licensed barber.

Cymerys is known as "Joe the Barber" and has been giving haircuts in exchange for hugs for 25 years in the city. He's been a fixture at Bushnell Park every Wednesday, but authorities kicked him out of the park this week.

Cymerys' friends questioned officials' actions, saying it was only a year ago that the city honored Cymerys for his charitable deeds.