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Neb. Mayor Boosts Cause in the Buff

August 7, 1998

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) _ The mayor’s publicity stunt backfired.

Hoping to draw attention to the problem of an uncontrolled pet population, North Platte Mayor Jim Whitaker offered to take a naked stroll during the Fall Fun Fest celebration Sept. 12 if the Paws-itive Partners Humane Society received $5,000 in donations by that date.

But after the story was picked up by the national media, the mayor’s right-hand man said Whitaker wouldn’t walk nude.

``This is just a publicity stunt to help with the fund-raiser,″ City Administrator Tom Harvat, who oversees day-to-day city business, said Friday. ``We had no idea it would have this kind of a reaction.″

Harvat said the mayor actually plans to walk a homeless dog named ``Naked″ down the street even though he led people to believe he would walk without clothes down the street in this central Nebraska city of 22,000.

Earlier the mayor had said: ``I hope there is a Nebraska football game that day so everyone will stay inside and watch that. Or I might have to grow my hair long like Lady Godiva. I might even buy a wig. But if it will help the program, I’ll suffer the consequences.″

The mayor was out of town and not immediately available for comment.