How to Survive the Valentine’s Day Great San Francisco Pillow Fight

2010 Update: This year’s Great San Francisco Pillow Fight is on Sunday, February 14th at precisely 6pm in front of the Ferry Building at Justin Herman Plaza on Market and Embarcadero. See you there! The article below is reposted from February 2009.
Valentine’s Day is usually meant to be spent with your honey booboocakes doing nice romantic stuff, but when do people ever do things normally in San Francisco? Instead, they engage in hand to hand combat with over 5,000 complete strangers.
Being somewhat of a new annual tradition (I believe the first organized Valentine’s Day Pillow Fight was in 2006, correct me if I’m wrong), this was the first time I participated in this battle of epic proportions. My friends and I actually got there a little late, so we missed the countdown and kickoff, but when we arrived the war was in full effect as the sounds of screaming and laughing people filled the air with straight up pure joy. It was just 5,000 strangers all in one place, smacking each other with pillows.
It wouldn't be a San Francisco event...

It wouldn't be a San Francisco event...

...without the protestors!

...without the protestors!

Now, I learned a few things after getting caught in some good melees:

  1. Always hold your pillow up by your head, for protection and rapid retaliation. Carrying down at your waist leaves you vulnerable to stray swings and you won’t be fast enough to strike back before you get hit again.
  2. Keep your mouth covered. Not closed, otherwise you won’t be able to scream “Attack!” at your unsuspecting target. But use a mask, scarf, bandana, anything, to keep from inhaling feathers.
  3. Don’t wear a hat, glasses, headband, or anything else on your face. They will get whacked right off, and if you’re wearing glasses, it will be painful. I stepped on at least a couple pairs of lost glasses, those poor people. They didn’t see that one coming, and they definitely weren’t able to see anything, period, after that.
  4. Stick and move. Stick. And. Move. A stationary stance almost guarantees a gangbang. If you see a good melee going on, whack your way inside, get off some good shots, and jump right out.
  5. If you find yourself being gangbanged, all you have to do is look for the nearest person with some sort of identifiable feature and turn the attention to them. For example, if one of the gangbangers is wearing pj’s, just yell “Get the guy in the pj’s!!!!” Watch as everyone magically turns their attention and gives that guy a beatdown. Bonus tip: You can just yell to attack anyone, anytime. Just walk around and yell “Get the guy with the big pillow!” or “Get the Power Ranger!” and watch as that unsuspecting person gets demolished in seconds. Just don’t get mad when someone calls you out, all’s fair in love and war.

Hopefully with these helpful tips, you’ll be looking like a seasoned vet next year, and walk away with less bruises and definitely less feathers in your mouth.

I’m sure the reasons people came are just as diverse as the actual people. Some came to let out a little frustration and relieve some stress, I definitely saw a ton of drunk college kids stumbling around, actual kids were there perched on top of their parent’s shoulders doing a ton of damage and taking none in return, and the rest were just there simply to have a good time doing something fun and unique. One thing’s for certain though, for those few hours in the cold February night, everyone forgot about the global economic crisis and the fact that they may be laid off any day. During these hard times, we Americans need any reason to remember that life can actually be pretty fun.

She's just a girl with a pillow and a dream.

She's just a girl with a pillow and a dream.

See you all next year!

Great San Francisco Pillow Fight
Justin Herman Plaza
Market St. & Embarcadero St.
San Francisco, CA 94105

Also check out:
St. Patrick’s Day 2009 at the Irish Bank – Recap


2 Responses to “How to Survive the Valentine’s Day Great San Francisco Pillow Fight”

  1. 1 paisleypictures

    The pillow fight was indeed a crazy but fun activity!! I like your tips and tricks for next year. I thought the people who wore masks/some type of covering over their mouths and noses were the smart ones. I inhaled so many feathers that night.

  2. 2 Jacob A.

    Look for me at the Hot Gates, where their numbers will count for nothing!

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