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Mayor’s ‘Naked’ Offer Sparks Uproar

August 7, 1998

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) _ The mayor’s publicity stunt got more publicity than he counted on.

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, Whitaker decided he wouldn’t walk nude.

``They wanted to have this fund drive and they thought this would be a good local story,″ he said Friday after returning from a meeting in Lincoln, about 220 miles east of North Platte.

The chagrined mayor said people at his meeting had heard the story and wanted to talk about it.

``Wish me luck with my wife when I get home,″ the mayor said.

City Administrator Tom Harvat, who oversees day-to-day city business, said earlier Friday: ``We had no idea it would have this kind of a reaction.″

The mayor said Friday he actually plans to walk a dog named ``Naked″ down the street but he deliberately misled people in this central Nebraska city of 22,000 to think he would take a naked stroll.

``Everybody bought it,″ Whitaker said.

The mayor said the mayor’s office complaints from people who thought the whole idea was in bad taste.

Initially, 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.″