Following a summer of challenging physical training, freshmen cadets at the United States Military Academy — commonly known as West Point — gather on campus for a massive pillow fight. Yes, you read that right: a pillow fight. While the tradition is usually harmless, The New York Times reported on Friday that at least 30 West Point cadets were injured in the pillow fight this August after some participants reportedly hid hard objects in their pillow cases.
The annual West Point pillow fight apparently dates back to the turn of the 20th century. Basically, it's used as a way for the freshmen cadets to bond after seven weeks of basic training.
A spokesperson for the United States Military Academy confirmed the event to the Times this week. "We are conducting appropriate investigations into the causes of the injuries," Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker said. He added that while the academy "regrets" the young cadets' injuries, "West Point applauds the cadets’ desire to build esprit."
Several tweets from West Point cadets on Aug. 20 show a cluster of emergency medical vehicles on campus. "You know its a West Point 'pillow' fight when you see this after its over," one cadet tweeted, along with a photo of what appears to be a cadet being loaded in an ambulance.
While it appears many tweets and videos showing the massive pillow fight have already been deleted or made private, photos from this August, as well as from previous years, show cadets wearing helmets and other body armor as they prepare for the annual fight. It seems like cadets have long expected the school-wide brawl to be rowdy and potentially dangerous.
A video, initially uploaded on YouTube by a cadet, showed the scope of the pillow fight, and revealed that many cadets were not wearing any helmets at all. A clip of that video can be viewed below.