Almost the World’s Largest Pillow Fight

pillowfight2Lands’ End first began offering items for the home in 1984, and quickly established a reputation for some of the thirstiest towels and toastiest flannel sheets around. Down comforters too – living in Wisconsin, you think about things like that.

The sternest test for our home products didn’t come from our customers. That happened in 2004, when we attempted to set a record for the World’s Largest Pillow Fight. If you’ve watched your kids go at it, you know what we mean.

pillowfight1Now, rounding up nearly 3,000 people to pummel each other with pillows on a Wednesday afternoon is a fairly tall order. Especially in Dodgeville, WI, population 4220.

So when we announced that our Dodgeville headquarters would be the site of an attempted pillow fight to benefit the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, we crossed our collective fingers.

Fight day was Wednesday, September 29th, an unseasonably balmy day. Literally not one single cloud could be seen. Just miles of clear-blue skies and sparkling sunshine, with temps in the low 70s.

pillowfight3Shortly before 2 PM, the pillow pugilists started trickling in. It looked like some of us had skipped training camp altogether – or had hit the cheese curds a little too hard – but we had no room to be picky. A Rochester, NY group was claiming to hold the official record with 2,004 participants.

The two main entryways to our giant “ring” were lined with dozens of four-foot-tall boxes overflowing with brand new Lands’ End pillows.

Every pillow fighter got one pillow, still carefully wrapped in its protective plastic case, and these simple instructions: have fun and keep the pillow intact. Because when we were finished, the pillows would be shipped to the Hole in the Wall Association to distribute to its network of camps for children with life-threatening diseases.

pillowfight6By 2:30 PM, the crowds had swelled. Hundreds of Lands’ End employees and retirees mingled with school kids and teachers and folks from town who’d snuck out of work early.

pillow_bob

“The man, the myth, the legend. Get to know Bob.

Some of the more dedicated practiced their pillow-fighting techniques, mostly on friends who happened to be looking the other way.

A DJ blasted dance tunes and threw prizes to keep spirits high. A conga line of football players from a nearby high school snaked their way through the crowd. When you’re that age, it’s hard to stand still.

From our vantage point, even a casual head count was nearly impossible. But to the naked eye, it appeared as though we might be short of our goal.

pillowfight4Then just minutes before the scheduled start time, a caravan of yellow school buses pulled up. Hooray! A neighboring town’s school had dismissed their kids early to join the fun.

It was go time. At 2:45 PM in a grassy bowl in Dodgeville, WI, a total of 2776 people walloped each other silly with pillows for ninety seconds.

Everyone survived. Sixty-seven pillows, however, did not.

pillowfight8Still, some 2500 pillows and pillowcases embroidered with “Sweet Dreams from Lands’ End” went to the Hole in the Wall Camps. The rest were donated to kids’ camps right here in Wisconsin.

It’s heady stuff, setting a world’s record. But you know how these things go.

On November 14, 2008, some 3706 combatants in Minehead, Somerset, England smashed the world’s record, and many pillows as well.

It makes us sneeze, just thinking about it.

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