Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday Afternoon in Union Square: The Sixth Annual World's Most Exciting Pillow Fight at Union Square Park

We stayed a lot longer at this year's Pillow Fight Day at Union Square than we did last year. The event was breathtaking -- mostly because a few people brought pillows with the verboten feathers, and our allergy to them made us reach for our inhaler to ward off an asthma attack. As Charlotte Bronte wrote, "A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow."

This couple across from us on the L train -- their friends were beside us, and beside themselves with anticipation -- wondered if they'd make the 3 p.m. pillow fight on time. We assured them they would.

They asked us where our pillow was, and we told them this was an event for young participants, that sexagenarians like us find it exciting just to be spectators.

That is, when we were able to spectate. This was the view from Whole Foods on the south side of Fourteenth Street.

The crowds are so thick with pillows -- it is remarkable how many people appear not to have pillows at home and so bought what were presumably their first pillows for the occasion -- it was hard to see too much without getting close enough so that we'd be injured. So we stuck to the periphery where people were phoning in their pillow-fighting.

But it's good clean fun and a new sure sign of spring in New York. Luckily it was a beautiful afternoon for freestyle ultimate no-holds-barred pillow fighting. Hordes of pillow fighters emerged from the subway ready to rumble.

These costumed pillow fighters were sponsored by Nestle's Crunch, whose logo adorned their weapons.

Afterwards, one of them confessed that he accidentally knocked a three-year-old boy to the ground during the melee. Luckily, the kid was okay and any litigation prevented by quick application of a candy bar to his mouth.

Sadly, there were episodes of people becoming crazed by the intense pillow fighting.

This young woman went completely berserk and began attacking random pedestrians outside Staples on Union Square West.

Disgusted by the violence and trying to avoid her blows, we ran across the street to commune with the nonviolent spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, who was blissfully unaware that pillow-fighting mayhem was ensuing in the background.

We were worn out but grateful for this event as a sign of spring as sure as these budding flowers. On the L train coming back home to Williamsburg, we were reminded of what Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard's Almanac: "Fatigue is the best pillow."

If not the best pillow fight.

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