Pillow Fight!

Filed in Local Events by on April 3, 2010 0 Comments

I’ve always enjoyed the interesting juxtapositions of Harvard Square. At once home to the nation’s stodgiest, stateliest university and the city’s filthiest, most caterwauling gutter punks, the square is an interesting microcosm of vibrant heterogeneity.

That peculiarity was on full display today as hundreds of people swarmed Cambridge Common to take part in International Pillow Fight Day. For over a half hour, participants pelted each other with soft blows, reliving their childhoods in a brief yet triumphant bout of insubordination.

Organized by a decentralized collection of self described, “urban playground event organizers,” the pillow fight is intended as a way for people of all ages to gather and, for a time, act very silly without seeming out of place. With the large group came anonymity and a temporary breakdown in the hierarchical structures inherent in everyday life. That’s not to say this was a grand reshaping of the status quo, but rather that it served as an effective means for blowing off some steam and just acting like kids.

Over 160 cities worldwide participated in this year’s event, with pillows flying in countries as far flung as Romania, Ukraine, Finland, Chile, and Vietnam. Some cities reportedly had close to 1,500 fighters last year; this year in Boston, perhaps 500 came out to fight, while an additional several hundred came just to gape.

Banditos Misteriosos, the local anonymous urban event planners who orchestrate such spontaneous happenings as the Allston water gun battle, coordinated Boston’s involvement in the pillow fight. To keep the event as, well, mysterious as possible, word of the venue went out only late last night. Participants were also encouraged not to descend on the park until minutes before the event’s 3:00 pm start time.

Cambridge Police had no fear, bravely stepping into the fray, pillows be damned.

Then, with one blare of an air horn, the seemingly innocuous park was plunged into bedding bedlam. Spectators ringed the park’s central monument—fittingly, the memorial is a testament to the concept of freedom—while participants bunched in a circle at the monument’s base. Some even broke free from the main cluster, hopped the wrought iron fence, and scaled the statue before doing battle at its apex.

Cambridge police officers proved they were downy on crime, stepping in only to halt the climbers  without ending the overall pillow fight.

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