Ross: Beaches in the buff don’t scream ‘Seattle’

Nov 22, 2023, 1:50 PM | Updated: 1:51 pm

Swimmers take part in the annual Sydney Skinny....

Swimmers take part in the annual Sydney Skinny. (Photo: Brook Mitchell, Getty Images)

(Photo: Brook Mitchell, Getty Images)

We reported Tuesday on a proposal by the Seattle Parks Department to install a children’s playground at a tiny beach on Lake Washington that for 50 years has welcomed nudity.

The money for the playground came from a civic-minded donor whose name has not been revealed. However, I notice that the park is nestled among private estates that according to Zillow are worth between $16 million and $19 million, and there is some suspicion that a well-to-do neighbor figured the squeals of little children would be a pretty effective nudity deterrent.

Related news: Seattle considering kids playground at clothing-optional beach

However, before we dismiss this as just another version of the get-off-my-lawn syndrome, here’s a scenario:

You’re searching online for a new park to visit, and you see this green space you never heard of, right on the lake. It’s listed there as a city park. So, you pack a picnic, gather up the kids and as you’re unloading, a cheerful guy strolls by buck naked.

Your first thought is:

A) Wow! This is cooler than I thought it would be.

B) I think I’ll introduce myself.

C) I’ll do what the Bible says and offer the person my cloak.


D) This was a bad idea.

More from Dave Ross: Turning the Constitution on itself

The point is that public spaces, to be public, should be places where everyone can feel comfortable, which means we may have to rein in our eccentricities. For me, that would mean resisting the temptation to break into a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song. For others, it might mean wearing a baseball cap over the “Satan” tattoo on your forehead. And for others, it might mean having a bathrobe handy so that your intentions aren’t misunderstood.

Not that it’s necessarily lewd to go naked. It’s just that this is Seattle, not Brazil. The climate here doesn’t exactly scream “nude.” It doesn’t even scream, “Speedo.” It screams, “wetsuit.” For me to enjoy the water,  I dress like a Navy SEAL.

When global warming finally kicks in (and don’t worry, it shouldn’t be too much longer) it’ll be different. But until then, unexpected nudity at a Seattle beach sends a very different message.

Bottom line: In a city where we designate bike lanes, bus lanes, toll lanes, and carpool lanes – beaches need clearly-marked nudity lanes, accessible with a Good-2-Go-Naked pass, and, of course, a mandatory sunglasses rule so it doesn’t get awkward.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Beaches in the buff don’t scream ‘Seattle’