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Longboat Key Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 5 years ago

1998: Town addressed naked truth

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

The Longboat Key Town Commission attempted a cover-up operation at its Dec. 17, 1998, workshop.

Its mission: Discuss an ordinance that would prohibit nudity in public places on the island.

The previous summer played out like “Longboat Key Gone Wild.”

In August, a 67-year-old man from Lincoln, Neb., was arrested and charged with exposure of sexual organs and undressing on the public beach at Beer Can Island, both misdemeanors.

The arrest followed a string of complaints about inappropriate behavior on the town’s beach, including a report about a couple having sex on Whitney Beach in the middle of the day.

Police tried to curb nude sunbathing with undercover sting operations in which they posed as beachgoers and patrolled Beer Can Island on an undercover boat. Several citations and arrests resulted.

But those arrests revealed a loophole in state laws and the town’s ordinance involving nudity.

Technically, it wasn’t a violation of state law just to be naked in public. The nudity had to be combined with some lewd action.

The town’s ordinance was also flawed because it stated that it was against the law to undress on a public beach. So, essentially, if a nude person drove to the beach or walked to the beach in the buff, that person wouldn’t be in violation of the ordinance.

The proposed ordinance that commissioners discussed Dec. 17, 1998, specifically stated that it was against town code to “knowingly or intentionally appear nude in a public place,” which led then-Mayor Ray Metz to joke: “We’re not going to have any fun on the island at all.”

That ordinance is now in effect today — meaning that the only groins allowed to be visible on the beach are the ones that control sand loss.

This week in history
Genaro Menendez, the 6-foot-4 longtime wholesaler known as “Tiny,” bought the liquor store then known as Longboat Package Store at Whitney Beach Plaza, according to the Dec. 14, 1979, issue of the Longboat Observer. The purchase marked the beginning of the institution that would become known as Tiny’s, although the bar wouldn’t open until 1984.



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