Dexter Cummings, age six, and his friend Riley Estep, age eight, showed up to Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park on Sunday ready for battle — or a perhaps a pleasant slumber.
“I like smacking people with pillows,” the veteran Cummings said, who's been involved in the semi-annual pillow fights organized by Frank Halling since he was three. He grips his chosen weapon, a cushion with a red polka dot case, with knowledge.
Halling, a Pittsburgh native and U.S. Army veteran, took up the pillow fight — now in its tenth iteration — from a friend and folded it into his schedule of events as the organizer of Free and Almost Free in Pittsburgh Meetup, which as a rule hosts events “for five dollars or less.”
“I’m a believer in silliness,” Halling said. “There’s no objective, there’s no real organization ... no goal, it's cacophony.”
This desire for fun brought out about 120 people — and one alien — for 15 minutes of fluffy assault at a still sweaty dusk.
Ricky Smoove showed up armed with a typical white cased club and his niece, Sabrina Silver.
“We’re looking at it as we’re against everyone,” Smoove said. “[It’s] a team-building exercise.”
That didn’t stop Silver from playfully landing a few hits on Smoove as well.
The fight had only a three rules — no hits to the head, only attack the armed, and don’t hit someone who is down to get their plushy cudgel. This meant old and young faced off in combat on the hill top — not that it bothered Smoove.
“I’m not above hitting a little kid with a pillow,” Smoove said with a smile. “If they're old enough to step into the ring …”