With a little over twelve hours to go until this year’s Capture the Flag, Lori and I are feeling anxious and excited.
Not entirely sure the 3,000 glowsticks we’ve purchased will be enough, not confident that we will be able to handle the crowd, and not certain that the game will go smoothly at all, there are a lot of things to worry about. We’ve spent the week calling up wholesale companies in the suburbs, photocopying thousands of maps, coordinating volunteers, soliciting donations, and watching in horror as the Facebook page we didn’t even create swells to 19,328 invitees.
But then we remember last year. The air was crisp and the corner was packed. We arrived a few minutes late, but when they saw we had the flags there was an uproarious cheer. When the game began, hundreds scattered in different directions and the next two hours were like a slow-motion dream. The most peaceful occupation we’d ever seen: 1,200 crazy kids running, cycling and longboarding betwixt the tallest buildings in Canada. The glowing necklaces made them an illuminated blue or pink blur as they dashed madly through the streets. It is a great memory for us and, at the time, was the largest event we’d ever had (surpassed eventually by February’s NYC pillow fight). The pink team won 3–0. We still hear stories about it from strangers we meet.
Capture the Flag began as a variation on Matt Collins’ Manhunt. After trying that game in New York a few times, we discovered that people naturally clustered together, making the isolation of Manhunt unbearable in a city where people can’t help but travel in packs. We recalled a childhood game that would address this issue, and Capture the Flag was born shortly thereafter. Something went right and the turnout grew tremendously. This year, our total time spent promoting Capture the Flag is somewhere around zero minutes, unless you include this post.
However, it has become clear after a couple of years that Capture the Flag, easily our largest Toronto event, has become less about winning the game and more about the grand social experiment of setting it up and seeing what happens. There is no prize to speak of (besides street cred, literally), but even members of the losing team were smiling when last year’s game ended and a spontaneous game of Red Rover broke out. Tomorrow, we will see if the blue team can regain their lead against pink. The rules have been changed this year to make capturing the flag even easier, and we hope that each team will be able to capture itat least once before the game is over. If you want to join in on the madness, meet at the southwest corner of King and Bay at 9:00 p.m. tonight, October 12.
Torontoist contributor Kevin Bracken is the co-founder of Newmindspace.
Video by Red Apple Entertainment.