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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Parks Department Is Not Your Mom

posted by on March 19 at 16:39 PM

The Seattle Parks Department is piiiiiiissed about a pillow fight which took place in Ballard over the weekend:

On Saturday a flash mob left Ballardís Bergen Place covered with feathers after a pillow fight and on Sunday night vandals scrawled graffiti across several structures in Discovery Park. These two weekend incidents took 10 hours of staff time to clean up.

On Saturday afternoon, about 50 people converged on downtown Ballardís Bergen Place for a spirited pillow fight. After about five minutes, feathers covered the entire park. Participants left soon after that without picking up after themselves. Parks maintenance crews spent six hours cleaning up the mess and a Parks security officer is trying to track down the organizer and other participants.

The Parks Department has reported the pillow fight to the Seattle Police Department and are urging witnesses to contact police.

SPD’s Pillow Fight Investigation Unit did not return calls for comment.

RSS icon Comments


shilo urban has been pretty forthcoming in the past.

Posted by infrequent | March 19, 2008 4:57 PM

I'd pay to see the SPD tear gas a flash mob.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 19, 2008 4:59 PM

I just hope they don't ban the pillows from the park, when they were the victims of this senseless crime spree ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 19, 2008 5:01 PM

you see why we can't have nice things in seattle?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 19, 2008 5:02 PM

And I'd totally pay to see the SPD pepper spray a zombie flash mob.

Especially if they're trying to do Thriller

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 19, 2008 5:05 PM

If they do it naked does it make them a flash flesh mob?

Posted by Bob | March 19, 2008 5:14 PM

Littering is not cool.

Neither are those stupid fucking flash mobs, for that matter.

Posted by kerri harrop | March 19, 2008 5:19 PM

Flash mobs are awesome, and what they left behind for the Parks Department is called "JOB SECURITY".

Posted by Flash This | March 19, 2008 5:21 PM

re: job security. it was parks department employees. and off-duty cops.

Posted by some dude | March 19, 2008 5:25 PM

"Flash this", guess how much of that "job security" you pay for? Yeah that's right one whole helluva lot of it. You like that high rent property tax hick stuff don't cha sugar.

For the record we used Goose down and NOT feathers...

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | March 19, 2008 5:26 PM

also re: job security: The Parks department has plenty of job security - it's called increasing workload with decreasing budget. And now they got to spend a day cleaning up after a bunch of hipster morons who miss the point of a flashmob. Here's a clue for Flash This: THEY DIDN'T INCREASE THE BUDGET TO ACCOMODATE YOUR MORON FRIENDS' MESS. That means your tax dollars went to cleaning up feathers in Ballard instead of fixing god knows what needs fixing at the many rundown parks. Nicely done, retards.

Posted by switzerblog | March 19, 2008 5:31 PM

Fewer dollars for the War.

Um, why is that bad?

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 19, 2008 5:37 PM

Pillow fight!!!

Dispatch the S.W.A.T. team, stat!!

Posted by Reverse Polarity | March 19, 2008 5:38 PM

Bergen place sucks as a park -- no one uses it -- the "art" trees are ugly and stupid -- the big wall -- the enclosure which makes non user friendly -- no one says "meet me in Bergen place" or sits and chats with a friend for 2 hours on a sunny day --

Posted by unPC | March 19, 2008 5:43 PM

Bad unthinking pillow-fighting people. Bad.

Posted by umvue | March 19, 2008 5:45 PM

Why the fuck didn't they just pick up after themselves? They couldn't have possibly have been worried it'd ruin the effect of "spontaneity", because I doubt anyone - outside the participants - was really paying attention.

Dumping in public parks is not OK.

Posted by Dougsf | March 19, 2008 5:46 PM

I'm so getting this image of a stand off between a flash mob holding pillows and armed cops in riot gear and all of the flash mobsters drop their pillows upon bullhorned command except this one retarded guy they brought along from this group home, let's say he's the brother of one of the flash mobsters, and the retarded guy is laughing and calling the cops names and everyone is shrieking PUT THE PILLOW DOWN TIMMY PUT IT DOWN THEY MEAN BUSINESS and the cops have their shotguns and AR-15's aimed at Timmy and he's laughing and he runs at the cops swinging his pillow and ratatatatat! boom! they blow his ass away and everyone starts screaming and running to poor dead Timmy clutching his pillow and a big red blood stain just spreads across the pillow and they just look at the cops and sob WHY WHY WHY??

Posted by Bob | March 19, 2008 6:05 PM

They're *feathers*. Does the parks department go around picking up feathers normally, or only if there are a hell of a lot of them? What happens to the feathers now?

Posted by Horace | March 19, 2008 6:12 PM

I love Bob's vision.

BTW there is a something called the fallacy of broken windows.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 19, 2008 6:16 PM

fucking spoiled, elitist, privileged, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-serving, inconsiderate, mentally-diapered children. they'd have someone wipe their asses for them, if they could.

Posted by misrule | March 19, 2008 6:20 PM

Yes, Will, the parks budget comes out of the war budget. Sure it does.

Sargon, I don't think our little pillow fighter here pays a lot of property tax. Just guessin'.

To me, this just underlines the difference between a real city, where artsy public happenings can be pulled off in a solid, responsible way that is compatible with citizenship, like New York or San Francisco, and this puling little wannabe baby town, where the citizens don't have souls and the bright young things don't have ethics.

Pillow fighters: you suck ass. Just because Bergen Place also sucks ass (which it indubitably does) doesn't make you a hero for trashing it.

Posted by Fnarf | March 19, 2008 6:21 PM

I have only one opinion here: pillow fights are fucking awesome.

Posted by Mr. Poe | March 19, 2008 6:22 PM

I have to say, the fact that plenty of these jackholes I'm sure brought cameras (smile for the blogs!), while apparently nobody thought to bring a broom and some (biodegradable, people!) trash bags is pretty stupid.

Or maybe that's part of the non-statement. We're so spontaneous and fun, that considering who has to clean up after us (and who must pay for it) is beneath us and our zany existentialist stunt! Etc etc. Yawn.

If the organizers of this have any sense of balance, they'll volunteer to donate some hours of their own time cleaning up Seattle parks. I'm sure parks & rec could use a few good volunteers.

Posted by S | March 19, 2008 6:22 PM

Walking away w/o cleaning up was apparently part of the plan:

What shitheads.

Posted by UnoriginalAndrew | March 19, 2008 6:33 PM

It sites good, but it seems themes are similar:

Posted by pkapfcb | March 19, 2008 6:55 PM

It sites good, but it seems themes are similar:

Posted by pkapfcb | March 19, 2008 6:55 PM

I don't know about parks but in MA the only two substances you can legally spill on the road are water and chicken feathers. I guess chicken feathers are biodegradable.
But yeah, littering is not ok. neither is having other people clean up your mess, unless it is part of their budgeted job description.

Posted by LMSW | March 19, 2008 7:10 PM

As someone who works in a public Arboretum, this sort of shit would piss me off. Seriously, yo. Think before you act. Or at least stick around and help clean it up. Your mother doesn't work here. For reals.

Posted by Michigan Matt (soon to be Balt-o-matt) | March 19, 2008 7:42 PM

why doesn't someone organize a flash mob to clean up a park next time? you know, everybody is milling around the park, and exactly at 3:13pm somebody blows a whistle and everybody starts raking leaves and picking up litter?

if nothing else, that and some efficient public transportation would at least brighten up my own little personal socialist utopia...

Posted by kinkos | March 19, 2008 8:30 PM

Clearly this should be added to the stuff white people like blog.

Posted by hunh? | March 19, 2008 8:49 PM

ah? i saw this earlier on which is a dating site for interracial singles. and i found there are some hollywoood stars on it.

Posted by juggernaut | March 19, 2008 9:02 PM

and i thought feathers were biodegradable. guess i was wrong.

Posted by huh | March 19, 2008 9:12 PM

Okay, yeah a bunch of feathers got left behind in a puny little park in Ballard - FEATHERS PEOPLE!


Seriously, if the Parks Dept. elects to misappropriate man-hours cleaning up feathers, it only begs the question: do they do this EVERY TIME a bunch of Canada Geese or sea gulls leave behind more than a trace amount of feathers? Or do they have some sort of system in place that dictates that the sudden appearance of more than a handful of feathers automatically bumps the situation up to the top of their priority list for the day?

I can only imagine the utterly surreal atmosphere that must have pervaided this morning's SPD (no, not that one) shift meeting:

"We've got a massive feather outbreak in Ballard this morning guys, so just drop everything else you had planned for the day - yes, Bob, including filling the pot-holes at Carkeek, and cleaning the overflowing toilets at Myrtle Edwards - and hustle on over there, ASAP!"

Because, as we all know, a big pile of bio-degradeable feathers (most of which would have been dispersed by the wind in a few hours, if nothing else) obviously represents a much more serious hazard to public health and safety, than say, piles of dog feces, or, overflowing garbage bins elsewhere in the city.

And you-all are up in arms about this?
Sheesh, talk about screwed-up priorities...

Posted by COMTE | March 19, 2008 9:25 PM

Why couldnt the people who had the pillow fight do it Comte? and perhaps there was synthetic material used in the pillows.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 19, 2008 9:43 PM

Litter is litter, fools. Whether it's dog shit or goose down, you need to pick it up after you've had your fun. It's the law, remember?

Posted by Jim Demetre | March 19, 2008 10:06 PM

better than cleaning up the vomit of all the fucking late stage alcoholics who wander around vomiting all over the sidewalks... and i work in ballard. and they do. Feathers trump VOMIT and PISS and POOP any day.... feathers blow away.

Posted by M | March 19, 2008 10:08 PM

You ever open up a synthetic filled pillow before, BA? Shit is like a giant cotton-ball, a big, ole interlaced mass of polycarbonate fibers that would require someone with the strength of a Mariusz Pudzianowski (look him up) to tear apart, even under pillow-fight conditions.

If synthetic fibers were what we were talking about here, the block quote Jonah cited wouldn't have mentioned Bergen Place being "covered with feathers", it would have mentioned something more along the lines of it being "piled with pillows", because that's what would have been left there.

Posted by COMTE | March 19, 2008 10:16 PM

Goddamn right, Jim.

I want to see every damned illegal immigrant, down-dropping Canada Goose behind bars before the weekend!

Posted by COMTE | March 19, 2008 10:21 PM

COMTE, seriously, are you saying that anyone should have the right to dispose of biodegradable shit en masse in a public park? so public parks are wastebins now? were you involved in the pillow fight?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 19, 2008 10:33 PM

Hey, if this had happened in Chicago, the police would of beaten them up and tazed them.
Anyhow, this sort of thing just gives more ammo to sites like this:

Posted by Chicago Luva | March 19, 2008 10:34 PM

Literally tons of bio-degradeables get disposed of in public places every day, either as food waste, dead leaves, twigs and branches, urine, animal droppings - heck, even entire dead animals!

And you want to hear the REALLY CRAZY part? Given enough time, all that stuff just disappears, as if many, many elves ran around grinding all of it up into a magical substance that enriches the soil, which feeds the plant life, which in turn feeds small critters like wiggly earthworms, fuzzy squirrels, tweety-birds (Oh Noes! More feathers!), cute lil' bunny rabbits, rascally raccoons, and all the other happy woodland creatures!

It's called "abiotic/biotic formatic decomposition", AKA "composting", and guess what? It's completely natural!

Quick, look! Over there on the ground -


(Insert animated avatar of little stick man running around in a panic here)

Posted by COMTE | March 19, 2008 10:57 PM

Oh, and no I wasn't even IN Ballard on Saturday, and I've got a half dozen completed tax returns on a computer at the Seattle Center to prove it.

Posted by COMTE | March 19, 2008 11:02 PM


Posted by Neil | March 19, 2008 11:17 PM

comte, stop excusing people who litter because the litter is biodegradable. you wouldnt accept it if i took a shit in your yard. you wouldnt accept it if i poured a bag of feathers into a potted plant of yours. so why are you accepting that same type of shit by other people?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 19, 2008 11:23 PM

inconsiderate, but I've come to expect that from Seattlites.

just like you'll be walking down the sidewalk and suddenly notice four hipsters walking abreast towards you and they all expect you to get out of the way.

or the inability of smokers to properly dispose of their butts.

or drivers who try to cross intersection even when they can't fully cross the intersection (and thus end up blocking traffic).

little annoyances, yes, but they add up.

Posted by stinkbug | March 20, 2008 12:00 AM

COMTE hits the nail on the head. BFD.

And there is a world of difference between feathers and shit when it comes to nuisance value. Got perspective?

Posted by Mr. X | March 20, 2008 12:00 AM

MOST of these comments are so very over stuffed ...

Pillow fight folks, make it an annual event sponsored by the Ballard C. of C ...
could be famous and the hordes would come from miles around ... for charity ... The Homeless ... who have no pillows, so to speak

Lighten down ... the over stuffed sad sacks

Do feathers clean up better than dog shit and broken glass and , gunk?

Posted by John | March 20, 2008 12:29 AM

Sure, here's some perspective. I'll drop a couple pillows' worth of goose down in your front yard (er yeah, courtyard of the studio apt, or the condo your dad bought you, whatever).

It's natural, and it's not shit, so therefore you should have no prob, right? You can even make a budget for someone to clean it up. It will be their job, so it won't be a waste of anyone's money or time.

I like how "not littering" is equivocated to being a lameass kill-joy.

Got consideration?


Posted by S | March 20, 2008 12:35 AM

Oh, and I agree. It's not really that big a deal.

It's just another minor annoying itch caused by copycat Seattle wankers.

So what's the next cool prank that's already been done in at least two other cities?

Posted by S | March 20, 2008 12:40 AM

It's funny that natural bird feathers are considered litter when they're dropped on concrete pavement.

Posted by pox | March 20, 2008 1:03 AM

"No American Geese were harmed in the making of this Flash Mob, but we did terrorize a number of Canadian Geese by showing them ECB's column and then collecting all the feathers that they lost ."

Sincerely, the Management of Unpredictable Events

Posted by Will in Really Uptight Seattle | March 20, 2008 1:44 AM

I like #29's idea.

Posted by Johnny | March 20, 2008 6:06 AM

I will be happy to pay more taxes in order to support flashmob cleanup, because flashmobs (and pillowfights) make me glad to be alive.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | March 20, 2008 8:00 AM

Massive pillow fight in Pike Place Market, March 29th
DATE: Saturday March 29th RAIN OR SHINE.
TIME: 3:15pm
PLACE: Pike Place Market, corner of Pike and Pine. In the street, in front of the place that throws the fish.

Posted by some dude | March 20, 2008 8:27 AM

Do we really need to track down and punish the pillow fighters? Isn't it punishment enough that their lives are so pathetic that they consider flash mobs fun? These losers need our help, not our scorn.

Posted by There but for the grace of god go I | March 20, 2008 8:36 AM

Wow, it really IS like the town in Footloose here.
What would the Honest Abe Mob do?

Posted by orangekrush | March 20, 2008 8:51 AM

comte - a few feathers is one thing. this was not a few.

but that's not what this is about. this is about not leaving a public place worse than when you found it. the flash mob could have -- should have -- cleaned up after themselves. it should have been part of their plan. if not, then the event is fail (regardless of the artistic or entertainment value).

Posted by infrequent | March 20, 2008 8:55 AM

Please God (or flying pancake or whatever) tell me we have more to worry about than a whole bunch of feathers flying around in a park.

Flash mobs are fun to see. Anyone watch Patch Adams? Get out of your box once in a while. It's recommended.

Posted by subwlf | March 20, 2008 9:46 AM

@30 is right.

Next flashmob should be something equally hip yet carefree: how about everyone meeting at the UVillage Starbucks on a busy sunday afternoon, buy large drinks, then throw all their trash on the ground at the same time and walk away laughing.
It would be so non-comformistly cool. Yeah.

Posted by flasher | March 20, 2008 10:23 AM

While I agree that it's lame of these people to have left a big mess behind, I also have to say that Seattle Parks is one of the most uptight city departments I've ever had the displeasure of attempting to work with.

Posted by Explorer | March 20, 2008 10:50 AM


Go ahead, and take a dump in my yard - it's not like your shit isn't going to wash away in about two minutes after a good rainstorm, and at worst, I'll just have to scoop it up with a shovel and walk it over to one of my composting bins; elapsed time to accomplish task = 12 seconds. Of course, I can't account for how the neighbors might respond when they see you drop your drawers and start pinching that loaf, but that's their - and your - issue to deal with.

As for the feathers, well, if you DO put them in a potted plant, you've gone to the wrong place, since I don't have any. But, if you want to spread them around the yard, that's okay too - they'll probably make a good Spring mulch, and again, I can always rake them up for composting if they haven't blown away in a couple of hours or so.

Then, kindly move to Singapore if the idea of a few feathers strewn on the ground really upsets you so much - I'll be more than happy to supply several packages of chewing gum for your trip.

Posted by COMTE | March 20, 2008 11:45 AM

@61. i'm not going to defend the dump comment, that's silly.

but even you admit it'd take less than five minutes to clean up. this pillow-fight took hours to clean up. (maybe you are saying the parks department is inefficient and incompetent?) they had to clean it up because it was too big of a mess to leave alone. that's just not right.

is it too much to ask that if you make a big biodegradable mess in a public space, you also clean it up? i mean, what's wrong with that?

Posted by infrequent | March 20, 2008 1:29 PM

Sorry if someone has mentioned this already - but I think we're using the word "feathers" to mean "whatever was in those pillows". Did everyone show at the park with their expensive 100% goose down fill for some weird reason, or are we probably talking about emptying a bunch of sacks of polyester and dacron in a public park?

Posted by Dougsf | March 20, 2008 1:37 PM

Well, since "feathers" was the term used by SPD, one can only assume they are at least compentent enough to discern the difference between those and "a bunch of sacks of polyester and dacron", elsewise they would have used the term "pillows" instead.

And yes, @62, that's precisely what I'm saying. In fact, there's even a term for such lazy, make-work situations where employees spend an inordinately long time to perform an otherwise completely simple task: it's called "feather bedding".

Posted by COMTE | March 20, 2008 3:29 PM

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