Last week, New Times told you about a nude world record attempt -- for the most people skinny-dipping simultaneously. The stunt included dippers at multiple venues (mostly nudist resorts) across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. That record-breaking attempt took place last Saturday, July 13, but the official tally is not yet in, so organizers don't know if they succeeded in breaking the 2010 record of 14,110.
But there's another naked-swimming record: most skinny dippers at a single location. Breaking this record is a bigger deal, some local nudists say, because it would make the winning location stand out above the rest.
Organizers at South Florida Free Beaches are trying to snatch that world-record title. They have chosen the naturist, or nudist, mecca of Haulover Beach in Miami-Dade for the local attempt. The event was originally set for last Sunday, but Tropical Storm Chantal forced organizers to reschedule it for this weekend.
A group from South Wales in Great Britain currently holds the official single location record with 413 people bathing naked together in 2011. They raised more than $30,000 to benefit a cancer aid organization. Can Florida do better?
The rescheduled Haulover Beach attempt happens on Sunday, July 21, at 2 p.m. Participants must all be in the water at the same time for an official photo. Registration will start at 10 a.m., and organizers recommend arriving early.
Norma Mitchell volunteers as a spokesperson for South Florida Free Beaches. "This is a vehicle for us to become well-known and get more supporters," she said. "As well as do a community service fundraiser."
The organizers are asking that participants donate $5 to the Florida chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Haulover, the biggest designated clothing-optional beach in the United States, has grown in popularity since it was established 22 years ago and is now an important tourist destination.
Hundreds of people, many of them naked, visited Haulover this past Sunday despite the canceled world-record attempt. There were plenty of out-of-state license plates in the mostly full parking lot. "We Can't Stop" by Miley Cyrus played over a boombox in front of a multigenerational volleyball game. Young and old, black and white, and nearly all shapes and sizes bathed naked in the sun and in the aqua-green water.
Gregory Montanaro patrolled as a volunteer beach ambassador. A retired New Jersey janitor, Montanaro has been visiting Haulover since 2005. Mostly he watches for glass containers and for lewd behavior. He crafted a laminated page that explains naturist beach etiquette to potential troublemakers.
"We try to educate the people who come to the beach on what is appropriate behavior," Mitchell said. South Florida Free Beaches also employs a lobbyist in Tallahassee who works on behalf of the state's naturists.
The "unofficial mayor" of Haulover greeted regulars and newcomers in front of the lifeguard tower closest to the entrance. Larry Fleischman is 84 and was present at the beginning of the beach 22 years ago. He connects with naturist friends through Facebook and is so dependable at his spot that people leave messages for each other with him.
"The energy here is different here than in any other place," he said. He isn't too fixated on Haulover breaking the world record, though. "Come on, I'm too old for that shit," he said. "Life is too good."
Fleischman reached for his straw hat -- decorated with colored feathers and beads -- before posing for a portrait; then he resumed greeting his constituents.
One nude woman in her 40s said she will participate in the skinny dip on Sunday (she has been a regular at the beach since the late 1990s) but will not be completely open about it with her friends and coworkers.
"You have to be careful about what you say to other people in society because they don't share the same point of view as you," she said.