Feathers Fly at Embarcadero Pillow Fight
Hundreds flock to Valentine's Day fracas.
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San Franciscans celebrated Valentine’s Day in a variety of ways: roses, chocolates, cuddling — and others simply smacked complete strangers in downtown San Francisco with their pillows.

Any Cupids in the air had to divert their aim from the furiously flying feathers at Justin Herman Plaza Tuesday evening where a massive pillow fight took place. About 1,000 combatants waited for the Ferry Building clock to strike 6 p.m. so they could wallop away to their heart’s content.

“The whole thing rocked, start to finish,” said Rene Ravenel, 31, who organized the event.
Ravenel anticipated the fight to last about three to five minutes — but the participants didn’t tucker out until almost an hour later.

The scene almost resembled a blizzard, with feathers ankle deep on the plaza and sporadic pillows flying into the air.

“I thought San Francisco could totally have one of those and would totally have the energy for it,” Ravenel said.

The idea dawned on him to hold the fight in San Francisco after discovering similar events while surfing the Internet. After some research, he discovered that public pillow fights are held around the world. Ravenel e-mailed a few friends, and word quickly spread.

“The Internet has really changed how these kinds of events can be organized,” said participant Scott Beale, 37, who was surprised at how large the event became.

But as with any game, this one came with a list of rules. The first, Ravenel said, was to tell everyone about the event; secondly, wait for the clock before starting; next, don’t hit anyone without a pillow, unless they ask for it, and don’t whack anyone who is holding a camera. Most importantly, he said, was to have fun. This was not a problem.
Three men in hard hats and laboratory coats walked around trying to determine the formula of a pillow fight, while a man dressed in a kissing booth costume puckered up for 25 cents a pop, all the while dodging the swinging pillows.
The mayhem started with a countdown to 6 p.m.

“Every pillow fight has a starting signal,” explained Ravenel, a Web programmer. Not wanting to be the person in charge, he decided the Ferry Building clock across the Embarcadero would better sound off the start of the event.
Ravenel was initially concerned about how much the feathers would trash the place, but between the wind, some helpers and a few trash bags, the “snow” was soon whisked away.

Although this was San Francisco’s first public pillow fight, many other battles have taken place around the world. The U.S. holds the Guinness World Record for having the world’s largest pillow fight that took place at the University of Albany in New York on June 9, 2005.

While this wasn’t a record-breaking event, stay tuned for next year, as Ravenel has every intention of holding another fight.

“Thank you, San Francisco!” Ravenel said.

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PHOTO
Colleen Kirtz | staff photographer
Thousands of San Franciscans celebrated their Valentines Day by participating in an epic hour-long pillow fight in Justin Herman Plaza, along San Francisco’s waterfront.

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