The Naked Pumpkin Run turns into the Not-Quite-Naked Pumpkin Stroll

beckner pumpkin head.jpg
The caption on this photo from the "Don't Taze Me, Br09" Facebook page reads: "Ladies and Germs, I give you the destroyer of the Naked Pumpkin Run, Mr Mark Beckner, our lovely Chief of Police :)"
Over the past few years, no one had to wonder if Boulder's Naked Pumpkin Run had taken place -- but it was a different story this Halloween. The Colorado Daily caught sight of two or three runners -- a far cry from last year, when around a hundred people took part. Moreover, the 2009 participants weren't displaying any of their naughty bits -- generally a prerequisite to being considered naked.

Of course, there were considerably more than three people on the Pearl Street Mall who looked ready to run -- a fact confirmed by Alan O'Hashi, who took the photo atop a roundup of Mall Crawl and Naked Pumpkin Run festivites published earlier today. O'Hashi was on hand from about 9:30 p.m. until approximately 1 a.m. on Halloween night, and during that span, he saw plenty of people who looked like they might take part in the event. However, none of the ones he eyeballed actually did. According to O'Hashi, "I mostly just saw a bunch of people in pumpkin-head regalia milling about" in the vicinity of cops. Lots and lots of cops. "They were all over the place," he says. "It was like martial law was in effect. You couldn't swing a black cat without running into a police officer."

The Boulder Police Department personnel weren't acting in a heavy-handed way, O'Hashi emphasizes. "They were being very respectful. There was no real show of force at all. They were just a presence."

Indeed, Chief Mark Beckner, whose earlier meeting with an organizer of a Facebook campaign to revitalize the dormant Boulder Mall Crawl brought censure from the American Civil Liberties Union, stopped by the Mall, making it clear that he would be closely monitoring activities. As a result, a number of Pumpkin Runners decided that simulated nudity would be safer than the real thing. "Some of the people I saw wore strap-on prosthetic devices," he notes. "They weren't naked. They were wearing a naked costume."

As the evening wore on, rumors began circulating that a stealth Pumpkin Run would take place somewhere other than the Pearl Street Mall; O'Hashi doesn't know if anything along those lines actually happened, and Pumpkin Run organizers haven't responded to interview requests to date. But the pumpkin-headed revelers he observed seemed content to hang out past the stroke of midnight -- around the time previous runs have taken place. Shortly thereafter, the crowds began to disperse, and by 1 a.m., when O'Hashi called it a night, the throng was mostly gone.

In O'Hashi's view, the surplus of police didn't ruin the fun. "It was a very enjoyable Halloween," he says, thanks in part to the perfect weather. In the future, though, he'd like to see "more organized things happening. Rather than closing things off or barricading things, I'm hoping people will try to turn it into more of a community event, thereby creating this great integration of the community on Halloween night."

That doesn't sound scary at all.

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