October 31, 2009

Naked Pumpkin Run: Dead.

Update: A day after Boulder Police vs. Keep Boulder Weird (in the form of the Naked Pumpkin Run) was reported on CBS, Rachel Maddow, Gawker, BBC etc. (links below) the Halloween party on Boulder, Colorado’s Pearl St. Mall was peaceful, crowded, crazy and happy—and ended around 1am, by all reports. The Police, taking credit for having shut down all out-of-controlness, deserve our thanks (no one wants to see a violent, 40,000 Mall Crawl mob again, not even our friends J & R who tried to start up a more peaceable, fun version this year [links below]).

That said, that the Naked Pumpkin Run—little more than a wholesome, happy, silly, well-organized and small tradition that’s spread to six towns nationwide—was effectively suppressed, dressed, shut down is sad for the Keep Boulder Weird crowd. Runners wore shorts, underwear, etc.

Our hope here at elephantjournal.com: that together, Boulder citizens and the Police who are charged with serving and protecting us can better learn to work together without fear, misunderstanding, and with more communication and less intimidation (serving R at the door with a formal warning! [link below]). The conflict of the past few weeks can, and should, lead to a dialogue between the Police and various community leaders—helping to ensure Weird, yet Manageable celebrations for many years to come. That’s the kind of Boulder we allll wanna live in, after all. ~ ed.

Video of some friends Thrillering it up:

Video of last night, showing some creative imitations of nudity. Via Jann Scott, the Godfather himself:

Original blog follows: At the saNaked Pumpkin Run: Police say they’ll squash it, making arrests & charging “sex offender.” Plan: move the Run to undisclosed location.

To contact the runners directly and find out about new location, click here.

Update: Police vs. Naked Pumpkiners is on Front Page of BBC!

It might be silly, and fun, and wholesome—little more than a bodily expression of WOOOHOOOO!—but the Boulder Police* plan to silence this uniquely exuberant expression of, well, freedom.

*who previously have served our friends with a warning—at their house, no less—about their attempted revival of the Mall Crawl, a story we broke, and that a journalist at the Colorado Daily and then The Daily Camera (owned by same company) borrowed without nary a thank you or credit or source citation.

Now, Police say they’ll block the Pumpkin Run, close parking garages, they’re considering closing 36 to keep Denverites out...and will wait on the Pearl Street Mall and arresting any interlopers who dare get jiggy wid it. What happened to Keep Boulder Weird? Thankfully, Boulder’s lawyer Stan Garnett doubts he’ll find cause to charge anyone as a “sex offender,” though, somehow, he doesn’t see this as a freedom of expression issue.

Excerpts from a great article in the Wall Street Journal (the Pumpkin Run is also on CBS, Rachel Maddow, etc. tonight).

Police Chief Mark Beckner fears things are getting out of hand. “It’s a free-for-all,” he says.

So he intends to stop it.

He will station more than 40 officers on the traditional four-block route tonight, with two SWAT teams patrolling nearby. All have orders to arrest gourd-topped streakers as sex offenders.

Even Mayor Matt Appelbaum, who supports the police, admits to a tinge of worry that arresting Halloween streakers will tarnish Boulder’s reputation as, well, Boulder.

“I’m a little old for it, but it could be pretty cool to be running around with a pumpkin on your head and not much else,” says the 57-year-old mayor.

As for the runners themselves, they’re stressing. Do they hand the cops a victory by staying home? Fashion a zucchini codpiece to stay legal? Let it all hang out?

Oleg Abramov, a 31-year-old planetary scientist, says it’s an excruciating choice. He loves the run; he calls it a “liberating and somewhat surreal community arts project.” But being labeled a sex offender could ruin his career.

This year, police plan to make a stronger statement. They are on edge not just about the pumpkin run but also about an outdoor costume party that could draw thousands of rowdy revelers to the pedestrian mall. So this time, officers won’t mess around with handing out tickets; they expect to make arrests.

“We’re a police department,” Chief Beckner says. “We enforce the law.”

Whether the law applies to naked pumpkin runners is a matter of some dispute.

It’s not illegal to be naked in downtown Boulder.

Casting about for a law to apply, since nudity per se is not illegal, police hit upon the state’s indecent exposure statute, which makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone to knowingly expose his or her genitals in circumstances “likely to cause affront or alarm.”

Given that the Naked Pumpkin Run starts at 11 p.m., long after young trick-or-treaters have retired, and given that the route is packed with fans who come out specifically to see the event, runners argue that it’s absurd to think their prank is causing either affront or alarm.

Even if the run does catch a few people by surprise, “the joy it brings overall far outweighs the one or two people who could be offended,” says Callie Webster, who is 22 and a veteran pumpkinhead.

Police acknowledge they have not been flooded with pumpkin-run-related complaints, but say that’s beside the point.

Roane Buja, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Colorado, says she is debating running while partially covered up — but fears that would kill the sense of exhilaration she felt last year from no-holds-barred exhibitionism.

“It was very playful,” she says, adding with a hint of indignation, “There was no aspect of sexual debauchery.”

But Ms. Buja knows a jury might not see it her way, and she can’t risk a conviction as a sex offender. “I’m going into education,” she says, “and I don’t know that’s necessarily the best thing to have on my record.”

With so many runners spooked, some organizers are quietly planning to outflank the police by taking their pumpkins elsewhere. Come nightfall, they intend to doff their clothes and don their gourds in a nearby…for the rest of the article, click below:


Via our hero Duzer:

From 2002, perhaps my fave, in the snow, from pumpkin prep to finish, all to Carmina Burana!

“This is what’s Boulder’s all about.”

Not a happy ending:

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