Pulse was supposed to rally the young Christians of the Twin Cities to U.S. Bank to jam out to Christian artists like Lecrae, hear testimony from Trump enthusiast and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, and then break the Guinness World Record for Largest Pillow Fight. So 18-year-old Kayla Cross decided to go with her boyfriend, Erik Ernst.
Lindell provided 50,000 pillows, stuffed under the stadium seats. Eventually, the attendees were going to be asked to bludgeon their neighbors with them to the musical stylings of Daft Punk.
Cross and Ernst are both from Minneapolis. Going to Pulse had been Ernst’s idea. Cross isn’t Christian, but her boyfriend is, and this seemed like a good opportunity to spend some time with him and his family at a faith-based event.
Cross and Ernst sat at the highest perch in U.S. Bank, away from the crowds. The surrounding empty seats left them with a disproportionate share of pillows at their disposal. So they did what any rational person would do: Make a colossal fort, sitting upon their cushy throne to enjoy the music.
But the event didn't live up to its billing. The sound system warped and crackled and kept them from hearing what anyone was saying – or singing. They decided to head out a few minutes before the pillow fight, but not before they saw people leaving with armfuls of pillows, like dragons guarding hoards of fluffy treasure.
So they grabbed about 30 pillows, slinging the handles on their packaging over Ernst’s arms like a carnival hustler carrying a fleet of stuffed bears.
As they were walking, the glimmer of conquest faded. They weren’t even sure they wanted these. So they started passing them out to folks by U.S. Bank. “If I had all those pillows," a woman told them, "I'd be giving them to homeless people.”
They headed toward a bridge where homeless people took shelter. They didn’t find anyone, but they found signs of habitation -- scattered couch cushions and possessions stashed in corners. They left a few pillows and moved on.
Then they bumped into a guy holding a sign outside of a Taco Bell. It read “anything helps.”
So they gave him a couple of pillows and took him inside to buy him whatever he wanted. They talked about relationships. The man said he was in love with another man. They’d met online and now they were engaged. They’d been together for six years.
Then they got in Ernst’s car and hauled their load to Franklin Avenue, giving them to homeless people they saw along the way. They ended up talking to a lot of people that night.
“These people are really often overlooked… people look down on them and really don’t look at them like they’re people,” Cross says. But these people had more to talk about than anyone. It was rewarding, Cross says, to just listen.
Pulse did end up breaking the pillow fight record with a total of 7,681 combatants. Lindell said a prayer asking everyone to take their pillows home and make them their “prayer pillows,” that they would “lay on them and never forget this night.” There’s no indication that the 30 Cross and Ernst pilfered were missed.