350 Missoula residents met at Kiwanis Park Sunday morning for a clothing-optional bike parade, the first in Missoula’s history.
Participants congregated in various stages of dress; most were completely nude, while some opted for tutus, spandex and even caution tape.
Organizer Nita Maddux, 48, began planning the “Bare As You Dare” bike ride four months ago taking inspiration from “World Naked Bike Ride”, a movement in over 20 countries promoting body positivity inspiration, reduced oil dependency and biker safety.
“We had to get a parade permit for this to work,” Maddux said, who met local criticism for the event. “There’s nothing wrong with being nude as long as you aren’t lewd.”
Maddux said she has had eight death threats since the planning stages.
At 10:30, the riders took off on a three-mile loop across the Madison street pedestrian bridge, past the Missoulian building, and to the red XXX’s at the end of Higgins where they turned around and returned to the Kiwanis Park baseball field by 11:30.
Marijuana hung in the air in the thickest part of the returning crowd, and reggae music played as riders congratulated and hugged one another for the successful parade.
“It was a really awesome experience,” one biker said, requesting to stay anonymous. “I support what the ride stands for and it’s great so many others in the community do too.”
Participants came from as far as Portland to ride in the parade. Some even posted on Craigslist to find carpools to Missoula.
“It’s about subverting the puritanical nature of America,” an anonymous rider said. “I ride because I can and it’s my right.”