Begun in 2011 as a combination fun run and protest event, the Utah Undie Run had hurtled headlong into controversy this year. The run was scheduled for Sept. 22 in downtown Salt Lake City, but two weeks ago the organizers received a trademark infringement letter claiming that another organization has the rights to the name “Undie Run.” So that didn’t leave them time to re-brand the event, and they had to reschedule.
Undie Run organizer Nate Porter says that the only available day to stage it before it gets too cold in Utah to runaround in one’s underwear is Oct. 6 — which also happens to be the Sunday of the LDS General Conference, the big Mormon gathering of the season. Fox 13 News Salt Lake City:
“I think that’s phenomenal; people may think that’s deliberate,” said Leah Leavitt, who doesn’t take part in the Undie Run.
“I can see why that would be problematic in Utah, said Tasia Jensen, who thinks the run is a great opportunity to bring the community together.
Porter said there’s no hidden meaning behind the date; the timing is just a coincidence.
“I’ve been downtown on General Conference, and I’ve seen other protests in other forms, we’re the least of their worries,” he said.
As far as I can tell, the Undie Run was invented in 2001 by UCLA — specifically student Eric Whitehead, who walked down a Westwood street in his underwear while playing a guitar to protest the school banning the traditional Yell Week activities.
Soon students took to the streets in their skivvies the final Wednesday of each quarter, and a new tradition was born.
But the Utah Undie Run (now renamed the Utah Underwear Run, due to the trademark letter) holds the Guinness World record for most participants — just more than 4,000 in 2012.
That also happens to be the amount of coin that the Salt Lake City Police Department is charging the organizers for a permit: $4,000.
“I asked why, and the response was, ‘Well, we had some issues last year,’” Porter said. “And my response to that was, ‘Well, there were no arrests, there was no vandalism, no issues really happened last year, what’s the need for all these extra officers?’ and they really wouldn’t give me an answer to that,” Porter said.
Because there is none. Who’s to predict what will happen when an irresistible near-naked force meets an immoveable non-caffeine-drinking object? All I ask is that someone take lots of photos.