Group Holds Pillow Fight in New York

A group called Newmindspace, which says it "disseminates urban bliss," sponsored a come-one, come-all pillow fight in New York City this weekend. Hundreds of people showed up at Union Square, pillows in hand.

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LUKE BURBANK, host:

Back now with DAY TO DAY. And you know, there was a time that walking through Union Square in New York could maybe get you stabbed. Now thanks to all these civility laws, you're more likely to get whacked with a pillow. Seriously.

There was a massive pillow fight staged in the midtown Manhattan Square this weekend. Hundreds of people showed up, including NPR's Robert Smith.

Robert, did you do battle in this thing?

ROBERT SMITH: I was in the middle of the melee. I have to say I held my own, although my microphone and headphones got knocked off several times.

BURBANK: Yeah. That seems to be a reporter's nightmare, because there's always the question of how do you hold the mic, how do you get the proper sound, and if someone's trying to just nail you with a heavy down pillow, that sounds like a recipe for disaster.

SMITH: You know, a lot of people wouldn't know that a down pillow is indeed heavy when hurled at you. Yeah, the whole soft as a feather does not apply anymore.

BURBANK: What exactly is the strategy when you're just in the middle of hundreds of people swinging pillows?

SMITH: Well, there are two distinct camps in terms of strategy. There's one that says, look, it's all about technique, about whether you go overhand or underhand, or you jab, or you smother with the pillow. I talked to one guy named Sean Harvey(ph), who said he's been training for this for weeks.

Mr. SEAN HARVEY: Crunches, pushups, hitting things with pillows. You know, I try to vary my pillow weight, length, material.

SMITH: Now, there's a whole other camp that says it's not about strategy, it's about the pillow itself. And Jeff Law(ph) had a beautiful worn pastel pink colored pillow.

Mr. JEFF LAW: I actually have a little pet name for it. His name is Buzz Banigan. I sleep with him every night. And I brought him because of the sentimental value. I figure if I bring something from home it's going to motivate me more to fight harder.

BURBANK: So, like, who won?

SMITH: Well, nobody's sure sort of how to define victory in a pillow fight. I guess, in that way, it's sort of like the war in Iraq.

BURBANK: Did you have an exit strategy?

SMITH: Well, it's funny; there's many exit strategies, but the problem is that when you're in the middle of a giant pillow fight, nobody can get the momentum up to really whack you. As you move to the edges of the pillow fight, there are people who are taking a running start with down pillows, or if they use like those therapeutic pillows...

BURBANK: Foam, squishy foam.

SMITH: Yeah. The memory foam, when that hits your face, you can see your impression of your face in it for hour afterwards.

BURBANK: So, hey, by the way, who put this on?

SMITH: There's a group called Newmindspace, and they had no reason for it. They just wanted to throw a pillow fight. But this being New York, people would stop by and they'd say, oh, what is this? Is this a promotion for pillows or for 1-800-Mattress? And you have to say, you know, everything doesn't have to have a reason in New York, or promote something. It's just a pillow fight.

BURBANK: I mean, were people actually getting hurt because - I mean, a big, you know, pillow melee - I'm wondering if there were some broken noses or anything?

SMITH: I saw somebody with a bloody nose. I saw people with shiners and - or what will become shiners in a couple of days.

BURBANK: Right.

SMITH: But the biggest problem, probably in a pillow fight, is white lung disease. Because after you hurl that pillow hard enough, they break. And there were feathers everywhere. It was like a reverse snowfall, all these feathers swirling around in a blizzard, going up into the sky. It was gorgeous. People would stop and take a photo. But let me tell you, if you breathe in feathers - I was wearing a dark wool coat, big mistake. I'm still picking the feathers off of it.

BURBANK: Well, NPR's Robert Smith in New York telling us about his big pillow fight this weekend. Also, you're going to have a piece on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED this afternoon, if people want to get even more of the details.

SMITH: More info. Yeah. More info on the pillow fight.

BURBANK: Well, thanks Robert.

SMITH: You're welcome.

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