The story of Taylor Swift and a 6-year-old’s viral TikTok hug: See the ‘surreal’ moment

Monica Rodriguez of Surprise, Arizona had never shot a viral video before the family’s recent trip to New York City, where the biggest pop star in the world, Taylor Swift, took a moment to pose for a photo while hugging Rodriguez’s 6-year-old daughter, Natalie.

“It’s crazy how everything happened,” Monica says. “Had we been expecting to see her, we probably wouldn’t have. It was such a lucky moment of being in the right place at the right time and Taylor being kind enough to say hi to Natalie.”

She and the family were on their way back to their hotel, enjoying the holiday sights, when Monica happened to notice a smallish gathering of paparazzi and two huge black SUVs.

“We were on our way home from Times Square and we decided to take a break and look at all the beautiful lights and scenery,” she recalls. “We were right across from Radio City Music Hall and the entire street was covered with lights on the trees and stuff.”

It was outside a restaurant called Avra Rockefeller Center.

Taylor Swift poses with Natalie Rodriguez on a New York City sidewalk.

Waiting for Taylor Swift with the paparazzi
As Monica recalls, “I asked one of the paparazzi, ‘Can you tell me who you guys are waiting for?’ And he said, ‘Taylor Swift.’ I thought, well, I don’t know if I believe that. I would imagine there’s a lot more paparazzi than a handful for Taylor Swift.”


But just in case, they figured they would wait it out.

“We waited probably 30 to 45 minutes,” she says. “There was one lady who stood in front of Natalie. Taylor’s security saw that and they made her move. They said, ‘You get behind that little girl. You’re not supposed to be in front of her.’ They were very nice to us.”

Finally, Swift emerged.

By that point, it was after midnight.

“When Taylor came out, everybody, of course, is shouting, ‘Taylor!’” Monica recalls.

As seen in the video, Swift left the restaurant and made a beeline for the SUVs, keeping her head down.

“And the cameras were really loud, snapping pictures. And Natalie was saying, ‘Taylor! Taylor!,’ calling her name. But of course, you couldn’t hear her over the other screams and hollers. So I decided I would help her out and say, ‘Taylor, can she have a picture?’”

“When we saw her almost get into the vehicle, I got a little disappointed,” Monica says.

“I figured, ‘Oh well, she’s not gonna take a picture with you, but at least we got to see her.’ That was cool in itself.”
‘Oh my God she is coming to take a picture with you’

Natalie Rodriguez on her trip to New York City that resulted in a viral hug from Taylor Swift
That’s when Time’s Person of the Year, who launched The Eras Tour in Arizona in March, noticed Natalie, scurrying over with a smile to give her a hug and pose for photos.

“All of a sudden, she turned around and I was like, ‘Oh my God, she is coming to take a picture with you,’” Monica says. “Of course, it went beyond that. She gave her a hug. At first, I was taking a video and then when I realized Taylor was posing, I figured, shoot, I’d better switch it to camera mode and take an actual picture. So I hurried up and did that.”

She was surprised at how accommodating Swift was.

“She stood there a good time, making sure we got a good picture,” Monica says.

“It was such a surreal moment. It’s not every day a star like Taylor Swift will make time for a little girl. In the middle of the night, no less. It was really sweet of her.”

‘She gave me a hug and touched my hair’
Natalie, of course, was thrilled.

“She gave me a hug and touched my hair,” she says.

Natalie’s older brother, Chris, says Swift told Natalie, “It’s kind of late. What are you doing awake?” Or words to that effect.

In the video and photo Monica shot, Natalie can be seen clutching a bear whose baseball allegiances Monica makes it a point to explain.

“It’s a New York Yankees bear and, living in Arizona, we’re Diamondbacks fans,” she says. “I was like ‘No, Natalie. We’ve got to get a different bear. Something that doesn’t say New York Yankees.’

“But it was the only bear that was pink, and she really wanted a pink bear. I was like, ‘Fine, it can be a souvenir. So she made sure that little bear was in the picture too.”

‘My sister is getting a hug from Taylor Swift’

Natalie Rodriguez on the trip to New York City that resulted in a viral hug from Taylor Swift
Chris, 30, missed the whole thing, having stayed behind in Arizona. It was after 10 p.m. in Arizona when he got the text from New York City.

“No words, nothing, just the video,” he says. “I watched it and I just could not believe my eyes. I was like, ‘What is happening in this video right now? My sister is getting a hug from Taylor Swift.’ So I FaceTimed my parents immediately.”

The family was back at their hotel by that point.

“We’re kind of debriefing what happened,” Chris says. “And I tell them I kind of want to post this on TikTok. I’ve been trying to grow a following on there because I sing, too.”

Chris sings the national anthem at sporting events in Arizona. His next gig is for the Phoenix Suns vs. the Miami Heat on Jan. 5 at Footprint Center.



Taylor ‘didn’t have to stop. For anybody. But she stopped for my sister’
That’s not the only reason he shared the video on TikTok, where his handle is St. Christopher.

“People need to know that Taylor Swift was just so sweet and what she does for her fans. She didn’t have to stop. For anybody. But she stopped for my sister.”

Chris posted the video, writing, “Taylor Swift just made my baby sister’s night” and “She’s such a sweetheart!!!” and went off to bed.

“I admit it was a little tough to sleep that night just because I was so excited and so happy for my sister,” he recalls.

“And when I woke up the next morning, my phone was acting strange. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ I saw a few notifications from TikTok but not a ton. I open up my app and it’s got 1.5 million views, 100,000 likes, so many shares and bookmarks. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘Holy moly!’”

Not quite a week after posting, that video is at 3.5 million views, with 659,500 likes, 33,800 bookmarks and 3,100 comments, most of which are really nice.

“Oh my gosh, it’s amazing,” Monica says. “We know she’s very famous and obviously has lots of followers, but just how kind people are, it’s just really amazing. The whole thing is magical, you know?”

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