Fluffy pillows held in the hands of thousands descended upon Harvard Square last Saturday afternoon. As 2:55 p.m. rolled around, they had migrated to the Cambridge Commons, united for one cause: controlled chaos. Bewildered bystanders, however, had no idea the source of such comradery. At 3:00 p.m. exactly, they were let in on the secret. At the sound of a battle-cry by a man charging through the crowd with a crimson flag, pillows were uncovered from their hiding places, including the insides of sweaters, jackets, and large, nondescript plastic bags, and became fluffy weapons of mass excitement.
“Pillow Fight Day: Boston” was organized by a local, non-profit, secretive group named Banditos Misteriosos, whose aim to get Bostonians “participating in ways just a little out of the ordinary,” while utilizing the city’s great open spaces. This has been their main goal since 2007. Pillow Fight Day accomplished this, and more, with dozens of other cities joining in, including Budapest, London, Paris and New York, among many others.
Word of the event originally spread like wildfire through Facebook earlier this year, with nearly 4,000 people vowing to attend, and even more telling their friends to join in. The venue, however, remained a mystery to all, until 11:59 p.m., on April 1, when Banditos Misteriosos announced the location on their website. All attendees were urged to “remain inconspicuous to the best of [their] abilities,” and to “hide pillows in bags, big jackets, and random trees,” at the request of the Banditos.
People of all ages, including the tiniest Bostonians, turned out to the Cambridge Common, whipping their pillows through the air, striking mighty blows to anyone lucky enough to be in their range.
“The little kids are the most epic!” laughed 24-year-old Matt Jerod. “They come out of nowhere, right at your knees, all giggling.”
Many pillow-fighters came in costume, including a pair in a Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger ensemble, a man in a horse suit, and the legendary Banana suit. However, the majority of people came clad in their daily garb, including school-pride apparel from practically every college and university in the Greater Boston area. The final feather-assailant count ended up at around 1,400.
As feathers flew through the air, and thousands of pillow whacks were heard throughout the grounds, bystanders stopped in their tracks, bewildered by the sudden action. Photographers and videographers, some with cameras attached to hard-hats, were there to document the action, while the fighters did their duty.
The fight, which lasted almost an entire hour, ended with feathers scattered on the Common ground, and many attendees out of breath from the ferocity of combat. The endless laughter might have had a huge hand in the lack of oxygen as well.
“Honestly, this is the best,” said 19-year-old Emily Brothers, of Cambridge. “Where else can you get this, everyone’s laughing, having a good time, being a kid again in this Spring fever. A pillow fight mob is the coolest thing ever, and so worth this messy hair.”