Vagabonding Field Reports: A Massive Pillow Fight in New York City

Cost/day: $55/day

Admittedly – I’m cheating a bit. I’m off the road for 2-3 months, so this was a day trip from Philly. If you stay longer, careful planning (couch-surfing, travel deals) will keep your lodging costs reasonable. As for fun – well, you just need to look around for it.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

Hundreds of people packed into Washington Square Park, all packing pillows of every variety and shape. Was this a huge outdoor slumber party? No – it’s the International Pillow Fight Day celebration! Tons of people, some dressed in pajamas, waiting for the horn to sound at 3pm, so the epic worldwide battle can begin! Then, boom – everyone starts swinging and goose down fills the air. Think Braveheart, but much, much softer!

Describe a typical day:

I was meeting a friend from Australia, who was visiting NYC for the first time, so I took the train into Penn Station. I had some time to burn, so I wandered around the Madison Square Garden area and stumbled upon a street fair. Unhealthy (but irresistible) food, trinkets and people in the streets, as far as I could see!

(6th Ave, NYC)

After a bit, we met up and then walked down to Washington Square Park for the festivities. If you ever have a chance, I highly recommend celebrating International Pillow Fight Day. It was random and everyone was out to have fun. It reminded me of a warm and comforting mosh pit (if ever there was such a thing), where you didn’t have to worry about anyone being too aggressive.

(Washington Square, NYC)

After that, we took the subway up to Central Park and just strolled around. On a beautiful day, it is just… gorgeous. I love the outdoors and it was incredible to be in nature, with skyscrapers looming on the horizon.

(Central Park, NYC)

We tried to get into Book of Mormon standing-room only (but failed) and ended up walking to the Marriott Marquis. If you get the chance, head up to the 9th floor and check out the view of Times Square. We spent hours there, talking over drinks and gazing out over the light show. I’m still now sure yet how I feel about Times Square, but the view was astounding and I enjoyed contemplating where we are headed.

(Times Square, NYC)

Finally at 1:22am, I hugged my friend and boarded the train home.

Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:

While walking down to to Washington Square Park, I waved to an older woman and sparked up a conversation. We talked about the weather, her history in New York City, good places to eat in the area and the like. What struck me was how friendly and open she was. I’m currently moving out West, partially because I believe that people in North East are “too hardened”. After the chat, I wondered if maybe I was wrong and instead I was at fault…

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

I absolutely loved that there were so many things to do for free – such as the pillow fight,  walking through Central Park and gazing down on Times Square.

There were a few to many people, but then I’m from Montana and have more rural sensibilities.

Describe a challenge you faced:

Technology will be our downfall! I’ve come to rely on my phone for getting around NYC and it became stuck in Accessibility Mode, rendering it useless. In the end, it helped make the day more interesting.

What new lesson did you learn?

I learned that my preconceptions about the North East are likely wrong – even though I’ve lived here for nearly 16 years. I also (re)learned that asking for directions is never a bad choice!

Where next?

As we speak, I’m packing up what few things I haven’t sold and am moving out to South Dakota. I’m looking forward to setting up a new home base, relaxing into the atmosphere of the Black Hills and then planning the next trip.

Chris Plough writes and podcasts at, where he shares stories and advice from his adventures and from the incredible people that he’s met along the way. You can also follow him on twitter: @chrisplough.


Posted by | Comments (7)  | April 14, 2012
Category: Images from the road, North America, Vagabonding Field Reports

7 Responses to “Vagabonding Field Reports: A Massive Pillow Fight in New York City”

  1. Spencer Says:

    I reckon that would be absolutely fantastic! I would love to get involved.

  2. Chris Plough Says:

    @Kris – Haha! You definitely could on the eastern side of Montana, with the long, flat terrain. Once you get west of the rockies, the mountain ranges are gorgeous.

    I like your site – but then it’s hard to go wrong when you’re immediately greeted with the visual joy of cow insemination 😉 Any recommendations for travel in South America?

  3. Chris Plough Says:

    @Spencer – if you’re interested, the website for more info is

  4. Kris Arndt Says:

    I’m going to come and visit at some point, hitching and train hopping probably.
    Well that was my very, I thought innovative, idea of a greeting. Absurd style at least. They have cows in Montana? I sense a niche market…

    Lots of recommendations. Don’t go to Brasilia unless you are an architect nut…I know a good place to get a tattoo in Buenos Aires…A good mountain lake in the Andes for skinny dipping…I also know a good place to molest cows in Guyana. That sort of thing? – It’s on my site.

    I like your site too. Very fancy. I’ll look forward to reading about your adventures.

  5. Ted Beatie Says:

    I watched the SF pillow fight from a hotel terrace a few years ago. That was just the right distance to see the craziness, and yet not be in the middle of it. It was crazy!

  6. Chris Plough Says:

    @Kris – I like your irreverent style of travel – makes for a damn good time. I’m reading through your site and making a list of everything that I must do. Tattoos, check. Skinny dipping, check.

    @Ted – I encourage you to jump in next time! I was pleasantly surprised not to run into anyone trying to knock my head off. Everyone was there to have fun and even kids and cameras were safe.