pillow.jpgTo most, Valentine’s Day means flowers, candy and kisses. But, to many San Franciscans, the approaching holiday has them thinking about feathers.

This Monday marks the sixth Great San Francisco Pillow Fight, which has attracted thousands of revelers to Justin Herman Plaza year after year.

“Tons of people just wait out in front of the Ferry Building,” former participant and San Francisco resident Issac Wexman said. “Basically, everyone is standing there in silence until 6 o’clock hits. Then it’s just madness.”

Despite the legacy that the fight has gathered, no one seems to know how it started or who the organizers are.

Wexman, 23, said that he is not certain there even is a mastermind behind it all.

“There is just a mass of people,” he said. “I don’t even know if there is a singular organizer, but it has really gained momentum.”

The Department of Public Works has been trying to track down the elusive organizers in hopes that they might repay their debt to the city.

Gloria Chan, Department of Public Works spokeswoman, said that the clean-up costs have amounted to about $35,000 each year.

“No one has ever applied for an event permit and we have not located the organizers,” Department of Public Works spokeswoman Gloria Chan said.

“Any organized event is supposed to apply for a permit to ensure a responsible, successful and safe event,” Chan said. “There’s a reason for the procedure. We hope that they come forward and begin that process.”

“Of course, it leaves feathers everywhere,” Chan said. “Feathers get scrunched in the tiniest corners and cracks. And when they get wet they require extra supplies to get rid of.”

In an attempt to mitigate the waste left behind, Pillows for Puppies–a New York-based group that sprung from concerned community members–will be collecting pillows and handing out trash bags in the aftermath of the fight.

The pillows will be donated to pets at local homeless shelters as well as churches in the area, organization spokeswoman Jennifer Small said.

“We’ve found that the community really steps up if they are given the basic materials,” Small said. “That’s really just the kick that people need.”

Small said that, although this is the group’s first year in San Francisco, volunteers have appeared at similar events across the nation, including a similar pillow fight staged in New York.

“We left New York sparkling and came away with 1,000 pillows,” Small said. “We are importing ourselves to San Francisco this Valentine’s day to make sure the same thing happens.”

Kristen Peters, Bay City News

Want more news, sent to your inbox every day? Then how about subscribing to our email newsletter? Here’s why we think you should. Come on, give it a try.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!