09 april 2013

 International Pillow Fight Day draws Canadian crowds


Feathers line the ground as dozens of people take part in an organized pillow fight in downtown Vancouver on Saturday, which was International Pillow Fight Day.

Less than 24 hours after Montreal police arrested 279 student protesters upset with tuition hikes, demonstrators gathered in a downtown park on Saturday for a different--and less angry--manifestation. In a scene replicated across Canada and in many cities around the world, the afternoon crowd in Montreal--many of them dressed in their pyjamas--had it out--with pillows. Participants were there to take part in International Pillow Fight Day.

In Toronto, Chaos reigned and stuffing flew at Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday as hundreds gathered for the event. Hundreds more gathered in Vancouver. Pillow fighters also rallied in Washington D.C. and in London's Trafalgar Square.

International Pillow Fight Day is organized by an organization called Newmindspace. It is the biggest event on its calendar. Newmindspace has been organizing free all-ages events in Toronto since 2005. They've also done things in other cities across North America, including, New York and San Francisco.

“It’s basically fun, free public events,” says Newmindspace co-founder Lori Kufner, whose group has organized other games like capture the flag, Easter egg hunts and subway parties.

“There is a semi-political ideology about public space and keeping it public,” she says. “We also just want people to re-imagine how they see public spaces…You can be like, ‘I remember that one time, where instead of going to a meeting at City Hall, I was in a giant pillow fight here.'"

It may have been fun, but there were rules that included:

*Soft pillows only.

*Swing lightly, many people will be swinging at once.

*Do not swing at people without pillows or with cameras.

*Remove glasses beforehand.

*Wait until the signal to begin.

One Toronto participant, Rameez Akim, came dressed in a banana costume. That choice, he said, was meant to give the fight a sense of occasion, and to--partially--freak out his opponents.

“I had to suit up,” he says. “This is a special event. I had to look intimidating. I had to put fear into the hearts of my opponents.”

Mr. Akim said what really prompted him to participate was the chance to have fun and interact with strangers, an opportunity, he said that is all too rare in Toronto.
“It’s fun for everyone,” he said.

“There are kids who are five years old, and adults who are 50 years old, and they're all just going at it.”


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