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People will run naked in Westdale with pumpkins on their heads

It caused a police crackdown in Boulder, Colo. that eventually led to the event’s demise. In other areas, it’s a tourist attraction. Now, Hamilton is getting its very own Naked Pumpkin Run.
Three men take part in the London World Naked Bike Ride, an annual event started in 2004 in Germany. A Hamilton man is organizing a Naked Pumpkin Run for Fun in Westdale on Friday. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty)

It caused a police crackdown in Boulder, Colo. that eventually led to the event's demise. In other areas, it's a tourist attraction.

Now, Hamilton is getting its very own Naked Pumpkin Run.

It definitely has an adrenaline rush to it, especially the first time.- Adam, event organizer

The event involves naked men and women running 2.5 kilometres with only pumpkins on their heads and running shoes on their feet. The Devil's Night event will happen at 7 p.m. on Longwood Avenue South between King and Main.

Organizer Adam, who won't give his last name, says he put it together on a relative whim this week. He's always wanted to participate in one, but it would mean a plane ticket to Portland, Seattle or Arcata, Calif. — all communities known to host naked pumpkin runs.

Participants will wear only pumpkins on their heads, or some mask variation. Runners must bring their own pumpkins.

Adam says he hasn't talked to police about the event, which he acknowledges is not without risk.

"There's always the risk of getting arrested because of misinterpretation or confusion," he said.

Open to interpretation

Under Canadian law, nudity rules are open to interpretation. The Criminal Code says public nudity is forbidden when it "offends against public decency or order," although it doesn't define what public decency is.

But Adam is expecting a happy-go-lucky event that offers people an adrenaline rush and feeling of liberation.

"This is a venue to conquer their fears," he said.

While naked pumpkin runs continue in several U.S. cities, it encountered problems in Boulder, where the run started.

The event fizzled out after 2009, when police started issuing tickets and placing those convicted on the sex offenders registry. The American Civil Liberties Union argued in favour of the event, but the threat of the registry was enough to scare off would-be participants. Boulder city council also passed a municipal ordinance prohibiting nudity in 2010, says Colorado Daily.

Only one complaint

Matthew Appelbaum, Boulder's mayor, said the city "reluctantly" shut down the pumpkin run after it attracted more and more participants and "got out of hand."

"We felt we just didn't have a choice," he said.

Boulder, he said, is "pretty laid back. I'd keep an eye on it. I don't know what your citizens will think."

So far, Ontario seems to be tolerant of naked events. The World Naked Bike Ride happens in Toronto each year, as well as other Canadian cities, to protest dependence on fossil fuels. Adam has participated in the Toronto ride.

"It's liberating and self satisfying," he said. "It definitely has an adrenaline rush to it, especially the first time."

Since word has spread about the run, Adam said, he's only gotten one complaint. A neighbour emailed him worried that participants would leave pumpkin bits around local yards.

"I told him I'll make sure an announcement goes out to put litter in its place," he said.

Hamilton Police didn't respond to requests for comment about the event.

Several people have challenged interpretations of Canada's nudity laws. In 2002, an Ontario nudist launched a constitutional challenge after he was found guilty of partial nudity after incidents at a public park and two fast-food drive-thrus. A&W and Tim Hortons workers said Brian Coldin came through the drive-thru without pants. Coldin said he was wearing a towel.

As for Friday, Adam said participants will stay clothed until the last possible moment. There will be a clothing check at a rate of $1 per person. That includes refreshments.

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