Nathan Phillip Square was full of feathers and spandex on Saturday afternoon.
The culprit? Pillow fight.
International Pillow Fight Day is an event that takes place the first Saturday of April every year in cities around the world. This year’s pillow fight was themed towards superheroes, and super villains.
The idea for this fluffy battle originated from a group called Newmindspace.
Co-founders Kevin Bracken and Lori Kufner started the group in 2005 while attending the University of Toronto.
“We were not old enough to go drinking, and were looking for ways to entertain ourselves and our fellow students,” Bracken said.
Their first event was a massive Easter egg hunt.
“People kept commenting, ‘This is awesome, when is your next event?’ We hadn’t really intended on putting another one on, but there was a pretty big level of demand,” he said.
Over the years, the duo put on events that met the same kind of criteria – a favourite childhood activity that could be replicated on a massive public scale.
“The most popular event that we ever did though of course, was the pillow fight,” said Bracken.
This was obvious as Kufner blew the whistle to start Saturday’s event, which according to her saw about 200 to 300 people show up.
Newmindspace was born out of the public space movement, which focuses on protecting common spaces from being taken over by excessive commercialism.
“In 2005, the public space movement in Toronto was just starting…people were really starting to care about things like billboards, signage, (and) public transit issues,” said Bracken. “We sort of wanted to be a more playful aspect of the public space movement.”
Susan Pereira works in the hospitality industry, and has been trying to attend the event for years.
“It was totally fun and I’m so glad I came…we did find that kids were kind of forces to be reckoned with though,” she said. “I totally got annihilated by multiple children.”
Pereira thinks the event is good for the city.
“People were pretty on it, like cleaning up right away. I think it’s great,” she said.
The idea of International Pillow Fight Day inspired Humber’s lead promotions assistant Ahmed Tahir.
“A lot of time in our society…we kind of dwell on negative things, and something like this is socially fun, people get together and just have a pillow fight, which is so childish – in a good way,” he said.
As of May 1, Tahir will be the Vice President of Student Life at Humber’s north campus.
“I think (this) would be something that I would honestly love to bring to Humber, maybe not in that specific way…but something like that,” he said.
“A lot of time we’re stuck in day-to-day activities…and something like this is a release,” said Tahir. “It makes life seem not so serious.”
Bracken attributes the event’s success to a lack of boundaries.
“I think there’s a certain level of universality in a pillow fight, I also feel like it has the lowest barrier for entry. A lot of events require you to be either physically fit or to buy something in advance, but anyone can find a pillow, without fail,” he said.