If you’re passing through Washington Square Park on Saturday, come prepared for an epic clash of the cushions.
The annual Pillow Fight NYC, which brings together between 5,000 and 6,000 people of all ages each spring for a battle of fluffy proportions, is open to any fan of the classic sleepover activity (pajama wearing is encouraged). To get in on the action, all you have to do is show up with a feather-free pillow (it’s BYOP) and be willing to get lightly pummeled (as shown in these photos from last year).
RECOMMENDED: See the full guide to Pillow Fight NYC
Kevin Bracken and Lori Kufner, cofounders of Newmindspace, the event’s production company, started the pillow fight in Canada in 2005. As a student at the University of Toronto, Bracken noticed that many of his peers rarely left campus.
“The inspiration in the beginning was purely political,” he explains. “We were big advocates of the public-space movement, and we saw what we were doing as a fun extension of that idea.” The pair wanted to create events that would encourage fellow students to explore their city and become active in its public spaces.
A native New Yorker, Bracken brought the pillow fight to his hometown the following year. International Pillow Fight Day has grown to include 150 cities worldwide. (NYC park officials still say it's not permitted, however.)
Since its founding, the fight has not only succeeded at its goal to get folks engaged with their cities in a new way but has also brought people together: Bracken says that, though not normally considered a romantic occasion, the event has led to “pillow talk” between participants and even several engagements.
In recent years, pillow fighters have also been attracted to a newer, more altruistic side of the free-for-all battle.
“People started bringing brand-new pillows from stores instead of from home,” explains Bracken. “At first we were dismayed because that seemed like a waste, but then we saw an opportunity to give back.”
Now all new pillows in good condition are collected and donated to Dare2B, an organization dedicated to helping New York’s homeless children. Last year, 1,500 pillows were given to kids living in the city’s shelters. Thus, one human’s ammunition becomes another’s comfort, and both can sleep better at night.
Pillow Fight NYC takes place Sat 2 3–6pm.