By Rula Al-Nasrawi
City on a Hill Press Reporter

On Friday, April 3, hundreds of students and locals are set to congregate at the Porter Meadow at 6 p.m. sharp to commence the First Annual Pillow Fight at UC Santa Cruz.

The Pillow Fight Flash Mob, which is a spontaneous mass of people who turn up to have a good old-fashioned pillow fight, has slowly become a global phenomenon thanks to the conception of smart mobbing.

Smart mobbing is the social occurrence of seemingly random flash mobs that are meticulously organized through social networks, which range from Myspace and Facebook to text messaging.

Lee Hibbeler, the UCSC first-year responsible for transferring this phenomenon to Santa Cruz, initially created a Facebook event page to promote the free event.

“I always kind of spontaneously put things together when I get an idea,” Hibbeler said. “It grew from 20 to 600, and I watched the number go up every day.”

The largest pillow fight flash mob, known as International Pillow Fight Day, took place on March 22, 2008. Over 25 cities across the globe took part in the flash mob, including New York, Paris, Shanghai and Beirut. Five thousand people participated in New York alone.

This year’s International Pillow Fight Day will take place this Saturday, April 4, in selected cities around the world. Hibbeler scheduled the Porter pillow fight for the day before the worldwide fight, a daunting endeavor.

“It’s probably going to be the biggest thing I’ve ever put together,” Hibbeler said.

First-year Noah Orme assisted Hibbeler in spreading the word across campus.

“I encouraged her to do it when she came up with the idea,” Orme said.

Attendees are required to meet at the Porter Squiggle at 5 p.m. with their pillows, and the first whack will be thrown an hour later. Hibbeler anticipates a decent turnout, and although she has not discussed the event with any administrators, her enthusiasm is unwavering.

“I expect a good number of people to show up and experience an epic pillow fight at the Porter Meadow,” she said.

Although the two feel the fight itself should be epic, Hibbeler and Orme hope that the feathery aftermath won’t be.

“We will probably send out a Facebook message to everyone about staying after to clean up,” Orme said. “We will really need help with that.”

Hibbeler and Orme’s cleanup worries are not without merit. This year’s Annual Valentine’s Day Pillow Fight in San Francisco left the city with almost $20,000 in cleaning costs — from draining and cleaning a 12,000-gallon fountain to washing feather sludge off parked cars.

UC Berkeley third-year Alex Gordon, who attended the SF pillow fight this year, explained the chaotic and messy experience.

“It’s pandemonium,” Gordon said. “Feathers everywhere, pillows everywhere. It’s gross, it’s wet, and it’s sticky.”

Gordon’s advice for Hibbeler and Orme?

“Start praying for nice people who like to clean,” he said. “Pray for people with OCD.”

Regardless of potentially coating the entire meadow in feathers, Hibbeler looks forward to the First Annual UCSC Pillow Fight.

“Santa Cruz has the right spirit and the right space to do it in,” she said. “I’m kind of nervous, but I’m ready to whack people with pillows.”