Saturday, July 11 a worldwide event will vie for a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. At 3 pm skinny-dipping enthusiasts will make a splash at a clothing-optional beach. Some leaders of Florida Keys Free Beaches say Key West should be a destination for tourists seeking out a clothing-optional holiday, and they have just the place, Smather’s Beach. The Key West Weekly heard the bare truth in Commission Chambers.
“I had my first skinny dipping experience as a Girl Scout in Minnesota, and I never thought I was doing anything dirty or inappropriate,” Shirley Mason recalls.
Mason is the founder of Haulover Beach in Miami, and the executive director of the Beaches Foundation Institute of Miami. She says if the City of Key West creates a clothing optional beach, the move wouldn’t strip anything from the quality of life here.
Key West resident, Sloan Bashinsky, who has already tossed his hat in the ring for a run for Mayor, is backing the naturists.
“A nude beach will bring in as many tourists as the Vandenberg. The naturists have a global network,” Bashinsky expanded, “and will find out Key West has a nude beach in less than 24 hours.
The group of promoters pointing out, this secluded section at Smathers is “desperately needed” to build tourism.
Alan Leigh, director of Florida Keys Free Beaches, provided the statistics to “the fastest growing” facet of in the travel industry.
“There will be close to one million new visitors to Key West every year. These are middle-aged travelers from Italy, Greece, France, and America who have a high-income level. They come for an average of four to 28 nights, and they come spending their money,” projected Leigh.
Mason reassuring city leaders clothing-optional beaches statistically are the safest.
“Miami-Dade would not tolerate the beach, if there was any disruptive behavior,” Shirley explained. “Girls come to our beach because they aren’t harassed whether or not they have their top on.”
Tracy Leigh, Alan’s wife, and also Chairwoman for Florida Keys Free Beaches told commissioners clothing optional beaches are a “family-friendly recreational option”, and a clothing-optional section at Smather’s Beach would promote “we are all one family”.
“A naturist beach is one of the safest places you’ll ever be,” says Tracy. “I take my children there.”
Commissioner Bill Verge advising: the clothing-optional destination needs to be a referendum issue, and the commissioners need to be shown this is what residents want.
“I think the entire city, people who live here and pay taxes, should have a say in this. Not make it a legislative decision,” says Commissioner Verge.
“There wasn’t a referendum about sinking the Vandenberg,” Mason relayed to The Key West Weekly. “This is the same kind of decision concerning recreation. This kind of exposure has a positive impact. My daughter is a medical doctor, and she was the only one in her class who wasn’t ashamed to look at people.”
Talk to your city clerk Cheri Smith to see how many John Hancock’s it’ll take to put this issue to a vote. She can be found at 525 Angela Street Monday through Friday from 8 am – 5 pm.
Shirley photo by Josie Koler
Shirley Mason is the Founder of Haulover Beach in Miami-Dade. She says wherever she vacations, she scopes out a clothing-optional beach, having one here, she says, will bring in desperately needed tourism dollars.
Haulover Beach photo from http://www.hauloverbeach.org
Founders of Haulover Beach in Miami want a clothing-optional recreation destination in Key West. City Commissioners seem to think there would have been more of a local showing at this week’s meeting to indicate this is a move they should be making a priority.