Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News
As she stood on a TRAX train in her scarf, hoodie, slip-on shoes, and well, her skivvies, Samantha Ward, 20, nonchalantly explained, "My pants were uncomfortable, so I decided to take them off."
Jason Dixon, 23, also pants-less, chimed in, saying, "She's lying. She forgot her pants."
The two were among dozens of TRAX riders in downtown Salt Lake who "forgot" their pants and rode in boxers, briefs or boy shorts Saturday.
If you're wondering whether so many were really that forgetful on a mid-30s day, the answer is no. The Salt Lake riders were participating in "No Pants 2K8," simultaneously with people in nine other cities. The event was organized by the New York-based Internet group Improv Everywhere.
Local organizer Ashley Merrill, 25, of Bountiful, said the point was humor.
"We're not doing this to be crude or vulgar," Merrill said. "We're doing it for the comedy. ... It's nice to take a moment and laugh."
There were a few dirty looks, but for the most part the response was positive. Some people laughed, some snapped photos, others were ambivalent or appeared to be trying not to look. The riders sparked a few conversations.
Utah Transit Authority rules require riders to wear shirts and shoes, but there is no mention of pants. Merrill said she checked in advance to make sure the riders wouldn't be breaking any laws the riders all wore modest undies.
The event was monitored, and UTA had received a few angry phone calls from people who mistakenly thought the state agency had sponsored the event, said Carrie Bohnsack-Ware, UTA spokeswoman.
"There were a lot of chuckles and funny looks," she said. "It was a pretty harmless event."
Still, she said, UTA officials would meet to see if there would be a need for a policy change to cover pants.
The Internet group started in New York City in 2001. This was the first Salt Lake City event. When asked why January, Merrill replied, "It adds to the humor."
"There are girls in this short of shorts in the summer all the time," she said of her pink and white striped boy shorts. "It's winter. We're wearing all the clothes except the pants."
As Merrill stood at the TRAX station, a motorist gave a thumbs up and waved.
"I think we surprised a few people," said Robert Miller, 43, of West Jordan, as a woman snapped a cell-phone picture.
The woman, Amelia Draper, 35, of Salt Lake, wore pants but said she came to witness the event. "People being in their skivvies. ... It's hilarious."A man wearing pants walked past smiling, shaking his head, saying: "I didn't get the memo."
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