Many Ann Arbor “traditions” have grown into major events without city approval and one of the most infamous of these Ann Arbor events is the Naked Mile. The Naked Mile began in the mid 1980's as a celebration of the last day of classes for University of Michigan students.
The first Naked Mile, started by a small group of students, ran naked on westbound S.Univeristy from Washtenaw through the Diag to the Administration building. Approximately 15 people participated and the event past without any arrests as officers were not even called to the scene. Most people thought the event was some type of fraternity prank, which are very common.
Year by year the event grew in size and I personally observed the “runners” in the second or third year it occurred. While on patrol my partner and I observed approximately 30 naked men running down the middle of S. University. At this point no one at the police department knew of the Naked Mile and we assumed it had something to do with a fraternity.
We watched the “runners” go by and we decided to go in another direction not wanting to become involved in any arrests with a bunch of naked students. Interestingly enough, we did not even get one call from a citizen in regards to these runners, as if citizens of Ann Arbor were used to naked people running down the street!
In any event, the “Naked Mile” grew larger and larger each year to the point where hundreds of students ran naked down S. University and thousands of spectators came to watch the event. In fact, at the 1999 Naked Mile, nearly 10,000 spectators came to watch the run.
The event really began to grow when large numbers of women began to run. In the 1999 run, well over 30% of the “runners” were women. National media outlets also heard of the run, further publicizing it.
As the run grew, city leaders were perplexed on how best to handle the Naked Mile. Initially the police department took a hands-off approach and simply provided traffic control and issued tickets, primarily for alcohol offenses. Obviously running naked down the street is illegal, but few arrests have been made at these runs.
The event still occurs but a decision was made to crackdown on the event during the 2000 run. Many arrests were made for indecent exposure and at the writing of this book, it appears the event has “run” its course.