Monday, April 05, 2010


Saturday I had planned on taking a trip across town to spend the afternoon photographing from the High Line. As I was getting my camera and supplies ready the night before I came upon a link to a happening in Union Square which seemed a much better bet. They were advertising the World's Largest Pillow Fight. Over 150 cities participated this year, and the New York crowd was estimated at 5000+. If you count the observers in and around the park, 5000 was on the low side.

The site published a Facebook page, and there were rules. Among them:

+ Soft, feather-free pillows only!
+ Swing lightly, many people will be swinging at once.
+ Do not swing at people without pillows or with cameras.

Well, the feather pillow ban was good in theory, but thank goodness that it was ignored by some, as the crowd roared whenever a feather pillow burst open and disgorged feathers to the wind.

People did in fact swing lightly, especially at first as there were many young kids in the crowd, Nobody was beating down children and in fact, some people made it a point to engage them and have little mini-fights with the kiddies.

But after about an hour and a half, as the event started to thin out a little, things got a little rougher. It started innocently enough, as people began to target certain participants. One young guy near me climbed on a friend's shoulders and called out to "Increase the peace! Put down your pillows!" He was attacked in a fusillade of foam until he fell.

Pretty soon it became less of a pillow fight and more of a pillow fatwa. As people were targeted for wearing costumes, having helmets, climbing light poles or any other infraction. Quite funny.

But as these things are, eventually it was taken over by a more aggressive pillow fighter, mostly boys with anger issues and free testosterone. And while I made good use of the opportunity to try and capture some of them sweaty and beating each other with pillows ( I know!), it soon became apparent that anyone was fair game and liable to be hit or knocked over as collateral damage. My cue to exit.

As a social experiment, and a way to have a fun Saturday in an urban setting on a sunny day, I would declare it a resounding success.

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