Wednesday, September 24, 2008

They DON'T want the clothes off your back

About a year ago (read original article here) we posted about the unique sandwich offered by a Maine restaurant which is earned free of charge if the recipient will jump into Moosehead Lake sans clothing. At the time a customer was raising objections to the menu item and threatening legal pursuit of a ban on skinny dipping patrons. While the effort didn't go anywhere, there still may be repercussions for a few folks who recently earned their sandwiches by shedding a few pounds of fabric and taking the plunge.
Police summon 3 who took naked plunge
By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

GREENVILLE, Maine — The Skinny Dip sandwich at the Black Frog Restaurant is free if you bare all and brave a jump into the cold waters of Moosehead Lake, but the court fee for indecent conduct isn’t.

Three friends who took the plunge bare-naked over the weekend and had the tasty sliced prime rib in a baguette roll may now have wished they’d ordered another meal or paid the $10.95 for the sandwich.

Crystal Stilwell, 25, of Bath, Bernard Beckwith, 31, of Windham, and Christian Simpson, 37, of Bethel, each were summoned by Greenville police for indecent conduct. Their initial court appearances were set for Sept. 15 in 13th District Court in Dover-Foxcroft.

The Class E crime is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, according to Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy. Almy said Wednesday that the punishment for such a misdemeanor would not involve jail time and that the fine would likely range from $300 to $500 each.

The trio doffed their duds at about 5 p.m. and dashed off a barge behind the Pritham Avenue restaurant into the water in full view of diners, who apparently enjoyed the brief show. The barge, which is part of the Black Frog and is attached to the main restaurant by a walkway and ramp, features a dining area and a bar.

Restaurant owner Leigh Turner said Thursday that all of the 40 to 50 patrons on the barge at the time were asked in advance if they would be offended if someone jumped naked from the barge and no one objected.

But Greenville Police Chief Scott MacMaster said Wednesday that a family that had been standing on the boardwalk nearby was offended and had contacted police. Ironically, the naked plunge also was observed by a local game warden who had been refueling his boat, he said.

When police arrived and issued the summons, all of the restaurant patrons on the barge pitched in and donated money to the streakers to help pay the fine, according to Turner. He believed the guests provided about $150 to each of the three skinny dippers.

Turner said he has had one or two people a week order the sandwich and then take the naked plunge, but usually the dips are done later in the evening when the streakers aren’t as visible.

“This is not done to offend anybody, and it was certainly not done to make anybody upset, which is why everybody on the barge was asked beforehand if anybody would be offended,” Turner said.

Turner said he has no plans to do away with his offer of a free sandwich for the nude dip.

The articles about the incident which have appeared in other newspapers such as the Lewiston Sun Journal, have garnered a lot of comments, including this one from user name Streaker from '76: "I wonder if the Black Frog would offer a free beer to go with lunch if say, 50 of us all went at the same time? Would the police attempt to arrest us all? Would the court attempt to try us all?" [Source]

The general consensus is that the legal pursuit of the matter is a waste of taxpayers' money, and the owner should keep the item on the menu if he wants to. Other suggestions include the sensible one of the owner putting up a fence, so that no non-participating bystanders get an eyeful of the blur as daredevils make for the water at high speed, which is how this complaint emerged.

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