(Don't) Fight for Your Right for Feathers
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(Don’t) Fight for Your Right for Feathers

Photo from last year’s pillow fight by Miles Storey/Torontoist.

THWMP. You’ve been hit. You dodged, but the pillow still caught you square between the shoulders. THWMPTHWMPTHWMMMMP. More dodging, more ducking, but you somehow found yourself sandwiched between a man wearing a bunny costume and your flatmate—who’s still mad at you for burning the rest of the Wheat Thins in the toaster oven. Game over. An explosion of white. Feathers flying, Bunny Man running, flatmate forgiving you with each downy friend you pluck from the corner of your mouth. PFFFFTTHHHHPP. Feathers. Everywhere.
Except for this year. Maybe. Sure, Toronto’s annual pillow fight’s still on, but the rules are slightly different. Instead of bopping fellow combatants over the head with feather pillows, the event’s organizer (that is, Newmindspace) is encouraging participants to think synthetic. According to co-founder Kevin Bracken, we have San Francisco to thank for that. “There was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how much it cost to clean up the last San Francisco pillow fight: It was well over twenty thousand. The reason the clean up cost so much was there was a fountain where they had the fight—and it needed to be drained, scraped, cleaned of all the feathers, and then filled up again.”
Although Bracken calls the San Francisco event “a beast of its own” (it’s not affiliated with Newmindspace’s New York- or Toronto-hosted pillow fights), the cost of the clean-up was enough to make Newmindspace—and other pillow-fight organizers—re-think their original rules. “The pillow-fight organizers talk to each other on a daily basis,” says Bracken, who set up this “global network” with Newmindspace’s co-founder, Lori Kufner. “We realized if we didn’t do something [about the feathers] there was going to be a crackdown. At the last New York pillow fight, we had something like a thousand feather pillows. I’m sure there’ll still be a few feather pillows, but the idea is to reclaim public space—not to make a mess.”
And if March 21 seems a little early in the season to be dodging-and-thwacking about Dundas Square, don’t look at Bracken; the date was set by Recently Divorced—an organic clothing store that wanted in on the pillow fight’s hype. The store, says Bracken, “contacted us in January and said ‘hey, we got a permit to do a pillow fight in Dundas Square.’ We said ‘great, but why didn’t you contact us before? And why March 21? That’s around the time we had that huge blizzard last year!'”
True, Toronto’s pillow fight won’t fall on International Pillow Fight Day, but it doesn’t appear as though the weather will get in anyone’s way, either. Oh, and in case you were wondering, this would be our feather-free weapon of choice—burnt Wheat Thins or no burnt Wheat Thins.