"You have a lot of options for costumes when it doesn’t matter if you’re naked or not naked," says one Mount Vernon nudist. "As the night goes on, the costumes usually start to come off. By the end of the evening, people might not be wearing much of anything."
Can’t decide what to wear for Halloween? Forego the clothes and just bare it all.
For nudist clubs in the Puget Sound region, Halloween marks the end of an active summer season. From painting their bodies to adding masks or capes, nudists try to incorporate humor and creativity into their costumes.
“I was a treasure troll last year, so I wore a red wig and had a blinky thing in my belly button,” said Dawnzella Gearhart, 56, a member and spokeswoman for the Tiger Mountain Family Nudist Park in Issaquah. “One year, I was Miss Piggy and all I had on was a blonde wig, feather boa, high heels, tail and a snout.”
Puget Sound nudists are holding their celebrations this year amid declining membership in nudist clubs nationally, according to the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). Fewer people have been joining the clubs over the past decade because nudism is mainly popular with generations that are aging and has failed to gain traction with millennials, according to AANR spokeswoman Mary Kolassa. The group serves about 30,000 members in the U.S. at 180 affiliated clubs and resorts.
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Tiger Mountain, formally known as Fraternity Snoqualmie, first opened in 1945. Gearhart said the park has around 250 members, but was home to as many as 500 in the early 2000s. Club membership was especially hard hit following the 2008 recession, when people cut non-essential spending, she said.
Promoting itself as a family-friendly park, Tiger Mountain allows children to be present with their parents or guardians. For Gearhart, being a nudist is an opportunity to be part of a community that values body positivity and acceptance.
“You know, I’m a chubby girl, so if I go to Alki in a bikini, you get that look,” Gearhart said. “Just being happy in my own skin, I love that.”
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In Washington, five nudist clubs are chartered through AANR: Tiger Mountain, Lake Associates Recreation Club (LARC) in Mount Vernon, Sun Lovers Under Gray Skies in Seattle, Lake Bronson Club in Sultan and Kaniksu Ranch near Spokane.
Nudist Halloween party goers at Tiger Mountain and LARC will stay within their grounds, with no plans for trick-or-treating off the premises. Washington state ordinances do not prohibit the act of nudity itself, as long as it doesn’t involve inappropriate conduct.
Gearhart is attending this year’s party in a nudist’s version of a firefighter costume, requiring only a hat and a squirt gun. She said she’s sure her 61-year-old husband “will be some form of Elvis.” Each year, they have the most fun being creative with their costumes. Her husband has dressed up as “SpongeBob NoPants,” and last year he went as a lucha libre professional wrestler.
LARC, a clothing-optional campground in Mount Vernon, hosts a Halloween dance under a heated tent.
“You have a lot of options for costumes when it doesn’t matter if you’re naked or not naked,” said Dennis Whitney, 66, president of LARC. “It’s all up to your imagination. As the night goes on, the costumes usually start to come off. By the end of the evening, people might not be wearing much of anything.”
Whitney said his wife plans to be an alien, wearing just a mask and pasties. Whitney is dressing up as a space cowboy with a vest, laser gun, cowboy hat, boots “and that’s about it,” he said.
At a little over 100 members, the club is run by volunteers and members are expected to help maintain the grounds. That feature contributes to building stronger relationships in their community, Whitney said.
“If someone needs something, everyone helps out,” Whitney said. “It brings everyone a little closer. We are, for the most part, like-minded people and just prefer to not wear clothes.”
For those who might still be without Halloween plans this year, Tiger Mountain Family Nudist Park, 24050 S.E. 127th St., plans to hold its annual Halloween party starting 6 p.m. Saturday. Non-members are welcome to attend for a $5 entrance fee, and are required to present valid photo identification to be screened through sex-offender registries, Gearhart said.