Teens Walk Around Nude in Brattleboro, Vermont

"Moses saw that the people were naked...and said, Who is on the LORD's side?" -Exodus 32:25,26

Nude Teens Raise Eyebrows in Vermont Town

By SCOTT CHRISTIANSON

REUTERS | BRATTLEBORO, Vermont, Aug. 24, 2006 -- Some have appeared naked in a downtown parking lot. Others rode their bicycles or simply strolled the streets in the nude.

Teenagers in the quaint Vermont town of Brattleboro are raising eyebrows this summer with brazen displays of nudity.

So far they haven't been arrested or ticketed: public nudity isn't illegal in the town of 13,000 people, unless it's done to arouse sexual gratification.

Vermont has a live-and-let-live tradition, allowing skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing. Brattleboro, the first permanent English settlement in the state in 1724, is home to a community of writers, artists and musicians as well as transplanted entrepreneurs from Boston and New York.

When the weather grew hot this year, a couple of dozen teens took to holding hula hoop contests, riding bikes and parading past the shops wearing only their birthday suits.

Nobody, including the police, seemed to take offense until one local, Theresa Toney, went before the town government in August to complain about a group of youngsters naked in a parking lot.

"The parking lot is not a strip club," she said. "What about children seeing this?"

Town officials asked their attorney to draft an ordinance to ban such displays for the Select Board to vote on in September. When the teens heard about it, some staged a nude sit-in.

"I don't see why it's such a big deal," said Alec McPherson, a recent high school graduate as he sat at a coffee shop table, browsing a thick volume of artwork from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Everyone's naked in this book."

His companion, Jeremiah Compton, a high school junior who plays in a local metal-and-punk band, agreed. "It's just that we're bored and expressing our right," he said.

"We have a nuclear power plant a few miles away and a ridiculous war in the Middle East, countries getting bombed," said Ian Bigelow, a 23-year-old who had gathered with some of his friends outside a bookstore. "So why's it such a big problem if we chose to get nude?"

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Law of Nature Prevails in Vermont

Brattleboro teens shed clothes with impunity

BRATTLEBORO -- Here on the banks of the Connecticut River, in the busiest parking area of a downtown peppered with bookstores and coffee shops, more is meeting the eye than some people want.

A politely rebellious collection of teenagers passing time in the Harmony Parking Lot this summer has taken to disrobing. Seemingly on a whim, they shed clothes and soak up the sun, nude.

What began as a lark or an ode to youthful exuberance has now turned into a municipal quandary, because public nudity is permissible in Brattleboro.

In the words of Town Manager Jerry Remillard, if you're naked in public, and you're minding your business, you're legal.

``We're quite a bit different than a lot of places," Remillard said.

Spurred by complaints, the town's Select Board will consider changing that, although no changes are expected soon. In the meantime, some pedestrians avert their eyes. Some youths cheer on their naked friends, and a few adults are so offended that they become nearly hysterical.

If the two-dozen or so youths, 16 to 19 years old, are seeking to make a social statement, the manifesto needs some work.

``We just thought it'd be a little fun," said Charles Corry, 19, who said he stripped to nature's own Friday and hung out for about 45 minutes with five like-minded friends as shoppers, diners, and walkers made their bemused way through the lot. ``I don't see it as a serious statement."

Serious or not, the teenagers have made nudity something that can show its pale or sun-burned self with no warning. Rachel Brooks, who works at Everyone's Books, sees some of the action on the sidewalk outside the shop's rear door.

``Personally, if I wanted to be naked, I wouldn't sit around in a dirty parking lot," said Brooks, 22. ``I wouldn't want to get cigarette butts on my butt."

The nudity began in earnest this year, Brooks said, when one young woman decided she wanted to bare her chest in public, just like her male friends.

Since then, the no-clothes fashion has gained popularity and has expanded to include group bike rides, skateboarding, hula-hoop contests, and a grass-roots music event that the group dubbed the Brat Fest.

One girl even sat partially nude on a newspaper vending box in the middle of downtown.

``I think most of Vermont wants Vermont to be nude," said Hannah Phillips, 15, who added that she has not disrobed. ``People have a basic human right to be naked if they want to."

Nearby, older teenagers sat on the sidewalk, fully clothed, their backs propped against a brick wall, munching on a pizza they found in its box. A car belonging to one of the group was parked nearby, a skull-and-crossbones on its hood and the words, ``Chaos Infiltration Squad," on a side door. On the opposite side of the lot, the Back Side Cafe looked down on the scene.

Although members of the group said they don't intend to offend anyone, one woman has filed a complaint with the Select Board.

But the wheels of legislation grind methodically here, and the board must hold two public meetings, followed by a waiting period of nearly a month before a ban on public nudity can be implemented and enforced.

Vermont does not forbid public nudity, as Massachusetts does, but some liberal communities in the state have banned it. Remillard said that outsiders should not begin to think of Brattleboro as a haven for the behavior. It's just that Brattleboro never had cause to ban nudity before.

``I would suspect that if it were OK, you'd see it in Boston," he said.

Andrew Wdowiak, who works at Everyone's Books, said that he's not put off by the nudity, but that the act has become a little tired. ``I think it was more for the shock value," he said. ``They weren't flagrant about it."

But last week, when about a half-dozen naked teenagers congregated outside the store, ``it was like they were baking a cake, and they really frosted it," Wdowiak said. ``All the men were naked, and the women were topless. I needed about three drinks to erase that vision."

One patron of the bookstore let loose with hysterics of Academy Award proportions, he added.

If the town passes an ordinance this year, cool weather will have begun to settle in this slice of the North Country.

But Remillard, for one, doesn't think the bracing air will accomplish what Brattleboro's laws have been so far unable to do.

``That isn't necessarily going to bother this group of people," he said of the cold.

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Trouble in Naked Teen Town

USA Today  |  August 23rd, 2006

Today's Boston Globe would like to introduce you to the naked teens of Brattleboro, Vt.  Young people are taking full frontal advantage of the lack of state or local laws banning public nudity, the Globe explains. And it seems some townsfolk aren't happy.

One local bookstore employee explains how the trend started last year. "The nudity began in earnest this year, Brooks said, when one young woman decided she wanted to bare her chest in public, just like her male friends. Since then, the no-clothes fashion has gained popularity and has expanded to include group bike rides, skateboarding, hula-hoop contests, and a grass-roots music event that the group dubbed the Brat Fest."

But there isn't unanimous support for the GenNext-turned-GenNude life. "Some youths cheer on their naked friends, and a few adults are so offended that they become nearly hysterical," the Globe says. A Saturday story in the local Brattleboro Reformer says the city council is exploring its legal options.

The Reformer article details the state's history of "history of skinny dipping, nude bicycle races and topless women on parade" and talks to young naked protesters. "A few people driving by in cars with out-of-state plates," the paper says, "looked aghast."

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