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Sonoma loved a good pillow fight

One of the Valley of the Moon’s most unique Independence Day celebrations was held in Kenwood for several decades and included the annual “World Pillow Fighting Championships.”

Over its nearly 40-year history, the event drew not only visitors from all of the world, but international competitors as well.

It started in 1967 when Kenwood’s fire fighters formed a Firemen’s Association and needed a big fund-raising event to support it. Firefighter Joe Benguerel was credited with organizing the first pillow-fight based on a suggestion from Kenwood resident and San Francisco Sports and Boat Show founder Tom Rooney.

Over its nearly 40-year history, the event drew not only visitors from all of the world, but international competitors as well.

The venue included a large greased metal pole set over a large pit filled with mud. Contestants, armed only with a pillow, flailed away at one another until one of them fell into the mud pit.

Every year from 1967 through 2005, the Kenwood Firemen’s Association sponsored the vent at the annual Kenwood Community Fourth of July Celebration.

That first year, the world champion women’s pillow fighter was Kenwood resident Janet Geib.

In 2005, the last year in which the pillow fights were held in Kenwood, Steve Cavalin and Sky Vends-Pearce each took home $500 as the men’s and women’s world champions, while Mike Behler and Alecia Finley earned $300 each as U.S. champions.

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