Boulder's nudity law

What it says: Anyone over the age of 10 in Boulder can't intentionally expose his or her genitals in public or on private property where the nudity is obvious to passersby.

What's exempt: Medical emergencies, dressing rooms, shower rooms, bathrooms or other areas designed for changing clothes. The code does not prevent women from being topless in public.

Penalty: The ordinance is a municipal misdemeanor that carries fines up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail. People convicted of violating the local code do not face mandatory registration as sex offenders.

Source: city of Boulder

If the Naked Pumpkin Run returns to Boulder this Halloween, police say they will be ready, but this time with a less severe penalty.

Officers who catch runners barreling down the Pearl Street Mall wearing nothing but pumpkins on their heads will issue municipal tickets for violating the city's new public nudity law, which comes with possible fines, said Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner.

Before the Boulder City Council passed a municipal ordinance prohibiting nudity in April, officers issued state public indecency and indecent exposure tickets for offenses such as streaking, which came with the possibility of hefty penalties including having to register as a sex offender.


Advertisement

In 2008, when hundreds of nude runners participated in the annual Halloween event, 12 people were ticketed under the state law and had to fight the sex-offense penalty in court. In the end, none of them had to register as sex offenders, but as a result of the scare, participants covered up in 2009.

Even with the new municipal ordinance in place this year, it's unclear whether any nude runners will participate on Halloween.

On the Naked Pumpkin Run's Yahoo group, someone posted on Wednesday, "Is there a 2010 run?" Another person wrote, "There should be," and another person posted, "Not unless someone steps up to organize it."

"It didn't happen last year, and we think it's over," Beckner said. "But we will be ready if it's not."

And while violators won't face the sex-offender registry this year, he said, they could be arrested if they don't have identification with them.

"You need to be properly identified to be released on a summons," he said. "If you're not carrying an ID on you, and we can't determine who you are, the option is to arrest you and make you post the bond."

CU student Roane Buja, 23, said she participated in the Naked Pumpkin Run in 2007 and 2008 but skipped the event last year -- like many others -- because she was worried about getting a ticket and having to register as a sex offender.

"I'm going into education, and that's the kind of thing that would really put a wrench in my plans," she said, adding that the police presence and stepped-up enforcement is ruining the fun.

"It's just a bummer because the whole nature of the run is in a fun and good spirit," she said. "It's not malicious, and it's not overly sexual. It's just a bunch of kids goofing off together."

Buja said she's only heard rumors of it happening this year. But, she said, if it happens, she might show up.

"I'm more willing to pay a $100 fine and count it as carnage of a good time than risk a future that I'm intent on," Buja said. "So if I don't have to work, I will probably be out there in my birthday suit."

Since the city enacted its ordinance in April, officers have issued six tickets. Two of the cases ended in guilty pleas, three of the cases were dismissed and one is still pending in Boulder Municipal Court, said James Cho, municipal deputy court administrator.

District Attorney Stan Garnett said he's glad the city has a new tool to keep some nudity cases from coming through the state and county system.

"That way we can deal with the occasional public disorder issue without dealing with whether someone is going to have to register as a sex offender," he said.

As for Halloween night, Garnett said, his office always supports Boulder police efforts to "protect property and people."

"It's not an easy situation that they have to do on Halloween, and we will do all we can to back them up," he said. "But I'm pleased that they have a municipal option."