02/10/2012 10:00 pm ET Updated Feb 13, 2012

San Francisco Pillow Fight Is The Best Valentine's Day Date/Not-Date Ever (PHOTOS)

Valentine's Day often inspires a lot of conflicting emotions--love, hate, anger, devotion, betrayal, lust, remorse, jealousy, pity, pride and, most importantly, the desire to beat the living snot out of complete strangers while suffering no real-life repercussions.

While you're on your own in dealing with most of those emotions, San Francisco has you covered on that last one.

Every year, a legion of thousands of the lovelorn and not-so-lovelorn bring their trusty pillows down to Justin Herman Plaza in front of the Ferry Building and, at the stroke of 6pm, start flailing away at everything in sight.


It's pretty much the perfect Valentine's Day event. It's free, it functions both as a date and a date-free alternative for the dateless and did we mention it's free?

Further proof this is the greatest Valentine's Day event of all time: it's become a spontaneous, self-perpetuating tradition that functions without any kind of official organization.

Even though the event's grassroots nature is thoroughly charming, it does present some problems. For example, when the city's Department of Pubic Works spent $35,000 cleaning up the thousands upon thousands of feathers left behind after the event for two consecutive years, there was a fruitless effort to track down the fight's masterminds and stick them with the bill.

"No one's saying the event isn't great," Department of Pubic Works spokesperson Gloria Chan told SF Weekly. "But when you call a large group of people to a small area, there are responsibilities tied to that. You need to provide amenities. You need to provide trash cans."

Bay City News reports:

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.

Even so, if you decide to join in the fun, do as the Bold Italic suggests and, "bring a garbage bag for your super-responsible feather clean-up contribution."

Also, please use a regular pillow, that Tempur-Pedic stuff can really hurt.

Check out this slideshow featuring pictures and video pillow fights past: