An Edmonton naturist group, which has hosted nude swim events for decades, saw one of its largest turn outs ever Saturday night.
“Typically one of these events would have about 100 people in attendance and we are capped for tonight due to demand at 160,” Kevin Boldt with CottonTail Corner said.
CottonTail Corner extended an invitation to Calgary naturists earlier this week after an event in that city was cancelled.
“We don’t really understand why the thing in Calgary has become such a huge blow-up,” Boldt explained. “We’ve been doing swims here in the Edmonton area without incident, without ever having a complaint of anything inappropriate. We’re a private group that rents a public facility.”
The organizer of the Edmonton swims said the public outcry in Calgary shocked him. John Martens said the City of Calgary has rented city pools to other family-friendly naturists groups for the past several years. He said several Edmonton-area groups, including CottonTail Corner, have rented out Edmonton pools for private, all-ages nude swims for the last five years.
“Nudity does not equal sex,” Martens said. “It doesn’t equal sexual activity and, whatever some people down in Calgary seem to think, it doesn’t mean pedophilia.”
The City of Calgary cancelled a nude swim event set to be held at Southland Leisure Centre on Jan. 14 due to concerns for participants’ safety.
In a statement, the city said it made the decision because of potential security risks “arising from volatile public commentary.”
“The fact that there were threats of violence is disconcerting,” Boldt said. “I believe that the event should have gone ahead.”
Boldt explained that the group has several security measures in place to ensure the safety of those participating.
He also said the attention has led to more people inquiring about the group.
“We’re definitely getting more inquiries,” he said. “I think it’s going to settle down in time and the naturist community in Edmonton and the surrounding area will be stronger.”
with files from Emily Mertz