Dozens of pantless people gathered at the Skidmore Fountain, Jan. 10, a sunny winter day with temps in the mid-40s. Amid whoops and hollers, they boarded the MAX train for downtown.
Some wore regular street clothes sans pants, but others dressed up for the occasion: There were pantless superheroes with capes. There was a pantless woman in pink high heels with a long, curly white wig and a unicorn horn on top. Other pantless people wore go-go boots or furry leg-warmers.
Heather Rock, donning bright pink hair, and Rosie Desantos, in stylish cat-eye glasses, came out because they are friends with the organizers.
“And it’s a good way to not wear pants,” Desantos said.
“We’re big fans of not wearing pants,” Rock echoed.
In addition to the fun of walking around in underwear, the event had a charitable purpose. Participants were asked to bring pants –and hats, scarves, gloves and the like– that would be donated to the Portland Rescue Mission.
Rock and Desantos were eating at the Thirsty Lion Pub beforehand, and the workers there gave them a bag of clothes from their lost and found to donate.
While onlookers might think this is a uniquely Portland affair, it’s not. The No Pants Subway Ride is an annual global event –in 60 national cities and 25 countries– that was started in 2002 by Improv Everywhere in New York City. However it has clearly gained momentum in Portland.
For Angela Schiedler, this was her third year attending the event; this time, she made matching outfits with a friend.
“It’s a fun time!” Schiedler said as a pantless group behind her danced to pop music on a portable speaker in the train car.
At one point, Schiedler pressed her rear end up against the MAX car’s door windows, to the shock and delight of occupants in a passing car.
The group disembarked and posed for pictures at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Then they migrated to Southwest 10th Street, where they embraced one another in a cancan line on the side of the street in front of Target. Finally, they headed to the Shake Bar for post-pantless-ride revelry.
There was one distinct difference between the pantless crowd here and those on the east coast: While New Yorkers are requested to keep a straight face, there wasn’t a stoic Portland face among the bunch. Smiles and laughter abounded.