A new depth to blanket forts

by YES! Staff

The dapper birthday boy, wearing a bow tie and a handknit crown, couldn’t have looked happier as he ran the length of a gigantic blanket fort at Glenwood Coffee & Books. A knot of friends in tow, including one dressed as a ninja turtle, he shrieked with delight and released untied balloons to zoom around the room.

The large performance space at the back of the bookstore, normally the home of activist meetings, shows and art projects, was half filled with a patchwork of mismatched bed linens. The sheets arced to points and sloped like valleys inches — and sometimes feet — above the kids’ heads. A two-person tent stood in the center, a small tunnel protruding from its mouth, and somewhere in the mini-metropolis someone was banging a drum.

Welcome to the World’s Largest (in Greensboro) Blanket Fort, the brainchild of birthday-boy August’s mom, Gwen Frisbie-Fulton.

It’s difficult to conceptualize a better way to spend a seventh birthday than under a comforter held up by string, running through rainbowcolored ribbons or crawling over a dinosaur blanket. Or any birthday, for that matter.


There is no world record for the largest blanket fort ever designed — it’s not clear anyone has ever formally tried to claim the title.

The handful of parents lingering around the snack table and the younger party-goers didn’t seem concerned with notoriety, though there is a secondary motivation behind the massive, temporary kingdom.

Most of the blankets were donations. Frisbie-Fulton works at the Interactive Resource Center, Greensboro’s day shelter and, well, resource center for people experiencing homelessness. Donated blankets — which she washed after the makeshift roof and walls came down last weekend — will go there, to homeless kids and other residents who really need them.

It might be unwise to attempt to distill the reasons homelessness persists in our cities into a few short paragraphs, but it’s inspiring to see how creative thinking such as this do-it-yourself play place can make inroads where established avenues trail off. The blanket drive won’t solve homelessness — that’s not its aim — but it showcases a way that creative thinking can breathe new life into an ongoing effort.

Imagine even 40 families in the Triad cities replicating the blanket fort or competing for the local record. And consider if more people found ways to incorporate service and solidarity into their lives in such inventive ways as this birthday bash for August (or Auggie, as the young gentleman is often called). With more creative thinking and a willingness to experiment with unconventional approaches, it’s feasible that residents could generate other effective ideas that stick.

Our city leaders — in all three Triad cities — should take note. !

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