Monday, February 05, 2007

In Candlepin Bowling You Have Three Balls

In the first post of last weekend about the toboggan championships, Wes noted that "Those of you who reside in Maine definitely think of odd ways to pass the winter".

Thanks to my friend Richard I am able to share details of another Maine winter pursuit, albeit one best suited to indoors.

Nude bowlers breaking no laws in Old Town
By Aimee Dolloff, Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - Bangor Daily News

OLD TOWN - They wore bowling shoes, but nothing else.

Some nudists who have been renting the Old Town Bowling Center for private parties don’t appear to be breaking any laws or ordinances, but they are having fun candlepin bowling and playing pool.

"Hey, you can’t go skinny-dipping at this time of year," said Hessa, who organized the events and wanted to be identified only by her first name.

During the three events the Bare Nekkid Mainers have held in the center since September, the one-story building at 185 Center St. was closed, its windows and doors were covered in paper, and signs announced that a private party was in progress.

"I have absolutely no problem with it, and I hope nobody else does," Charles "Chip" Carson, the center’s owner, said Monday. "They just happen to like having a good time without their clothes on."

On Jan. 20, a man apparently ignored the signs and entered the center with his 8-year-old son. "I tried to stop him," Hessa said Monday. "He walked through two doors that were covered in paper and had signs." He apparently saw a nude male playing pool. Disgusted, the visitor went to police.

"One of our officers went over there to check," Old Town police Capt. Kyle Smart said Monday. Police found no violations, and after checking with the city attorney and municipal officials, they concluded there has been no wrongdoing. The doors can’t be locked for fire and life safety reasons when people are inside, but Hessa said the group plans to post someone at the door at all times for future events.

"The only thing we’re not sure of is there may be some issues where they have a liquor license," Smart said. Carson said he checked with the state liquor commission and found no restrictions. He added that no one under 21 is served beer, but that food and alcohol are served with proper identification. Anyone under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult, Hessa noted.

"Evidently, there’s nothing in our ordinances," City Clerk Patty Brochu said. Nudity falls under a business’ special amusement permit, which the bowling center isn’t required to have. Because the events are private parties where people must RSVP and be placed on a list to enter, it’s not necessary to obtain such a permit.

"The big fear is that if this is allowed, how far does it escalate and how many liberties can other people take?" City Manager Peggy Daigle said Monday. The city has contacted the state liquor commission to ensure there wasn’t an issue, but hadn’t received a reply as of Monday evening.

Hessa said she hopes that no one tries to create new laws or ordinances because of the group’s activities. "We’re not doing anything sexually explicit, and we’re not out there doing it on Main Street," she said. About 60 households belong to Bare Nekkid Mainers, and 30 to 40 people have participated in each bowling event in Old Town. As self-described naturist nudists, the Bare Nekkid Mainers belong to an international nudist organization and participate in nudist events throughout the year.

The group used to bowl in Albion, but that venue has closed. Hessa said the group has been looking for a new facility ever since. "There’s no sexual overtones in any way," Hessa said. "We just like to do things a little different, and it’s all just plain fun."

People come from as far as 150 miles away for the naked bowling in Old Town, Hessa said. Some get hotel rooms for the night, and she stressed that they spend money on food and other amenities while they’re here. "Economically, it’s tourism at its best," she said.

Carson was notified by one of his employees last September that the event had been booked and that extra help would be needed for the event.

"I kind of chuckled a little bit and said, ‘I’ll be there,’" Carson said. "I’m not ashamed of anything," He turns the thermostat up to make his patrons more comfortable. The event is handled like any private party, such as a birthday or retirement gathering, he said.

"It was odd for me, too," said Carson, who has been working at bowling lanes since he was 12. As for business, there hasn’t been any impact now that word has gotten out. After all, it is a private party, Carson stressed. "Everybody’s laughed at it, to be honest with you," he said. "These people are the cleanest people that you’ve ever met in your life."

Each participant brings a towel to sit on, and they all clean up after themselves.

"I wish every group was this clean," Carson said. "If people’s minds wander, turn it off. Nothing happens at all."


Joe said...

I bowled against Chip Carson when I was a kid. He stuck with it. Me - not so much, though I did revive my career for a couple years at the Good Time Lanes in Lisbon Falls just a few years ago. We won the league championship one year, which was nice.

Bill Norris said...

Sort of makes you rethink the idea of the 7-10 split.

weasel said...

But Joe, do you whip little Joe out to help you relax? Naked tobogganing- that's where the money is.

Bill- indeed. It also has me repondering the ball rack.