of Michigan football played no part in attracting more than 10,000 spectators to downtown Ann Arbor last April. After all, the speed of a beefy Wolverine wide receiver is nothing compared to the lure of 800 bare behinds. In the spirit of naked tradition, a brave band of Michigan students joyously disrobed and flooded the streets.
"You just throw your inhibitions to the wind and do something you'd never do otherwise," says Michigan junior Dan Elder, one student whose inhibitions weren't the only thing missing that night.
Each year, students at schools across the nation find ingenious ways to celebrate the human form by flashing their goods for all to see, whether they're cheering the end of classes or observing the first snowfall. Michigan has one of the longer running traditions with its annual "Naked Mile," which takes place on the last day of spring classes. Some students say it's a way to celebrate their liberation from academic prison. Or maybe it's just an excuse to see their best pals in the buff.
"You really get to know what the student body looks like," says Michigan junior Bram Elias. "It's horribly embarrassing, but it's also really fun."
Bare flesh is also a tradition at Princeton U. For 24 years, sophomores have braved the cold to enjoy the "Nude Olympics" on the first snowfall of the year. But upon every naked parade a little rain must fall; an uncooperative El Niño refused to grant Princetonians their much-desired snow this year. No matter - Cool Whip was an ample substitute for snow.
Aren't students afraid they'll be identified and ridiculed? Princeton sophomore Victoria Aparece says it's rather difficult to pick out body parts, much less recognize people. "It's like a herd of zebras - you can't really pick out a person," Aparece says. "There are hundreds of students running around."
Some even consider the naked events a bonding experience. "Being naked makes everyone feel vulnerable," explains Princeton sophomore Greg Ayres. "There is a misconception among most people that it is a sexually charged atmosphere. We actually do it for the exhilaration of doing something outrageous, not because we're perverts."
And at Luther College in Iowa, despite protests from administrators, bare-bottomed revelers are good sports. Each year, students mark the end of final exams with a naked game of soccer. Michigan State U. students also celebrate the end of spring classes with their own naked frolic-fest - the annual Bare Buns Run.
So is dropping trow a trend that's here to stay? Let's just say that when these students promise you the moon, they mean it.
By Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud, U. of Michigan/Photo by Corey Morse, Michigan State U.
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