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'Clothing-optional' parties come under scrutiny in Iron Range city

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The subject of private, "clothing optional" parties got council members in Virginia, Minnesota, hot under the collar this past week.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the Virginia City Council last Tuesday by local pastor Terry Hartikka, who expressed concern over a "Spooktacular" event that was held at the Coates Plaza Hotel on Oct 23-24, the Mesabi Daily News reports.

The newspaper notes the event was comprised of a "Bar Meet and Lingerie Party" on Friday, followed the next day by a "Pool Party, Sexy Halloween Party" during which those in attendance "can swim in the buff."

The event was run by the Two Creeks Campground near Sandstone, which advertises itself as a "private, 100-acre, totally-secluded property for adults over the age of 19 who enjoy a nude campout experience," according to its website (graphic content warning).

In what Iron Range blogger Minnesota Brown says made for an uncomfortable discussion for council members – which you can watch here – Hartikka raised the issue (from 24:15 onwards) to see whether there is any recourse to restrict these sort of events when they are held within city limits.

The campground intends to host another "clothing optional" party at the hotel over Valentine's weekend, which it's calling "A Pink Passion Valentine Poolside Hotel Takeover Retreat."

"I cannot believe it and I am stunned this is happening in this community," Hartikka, of the Cornerstone Family Church, told the meeting, describing his reaction after it was brought to his attention by a member of the community.

Restrictions on parties unlikely

Hartikka also raised concerns the events could have "unintended secondary effects" such as disorderly behavior or sexual assault, and said at the very least the parties should be moved to a different area if there is a mixture of liquor consumption and "total nudity."

In response, city attorney Tom Butorac told the meeting the city already has restrictions in place for sexually oriented businesses, but noted these were drawn up to apply to businesses such as strip clubs.

He also told the Daily News that it would be difficult for the city to do much to stop the events in terms of ordinances, because it's classified as a private party.

Cory Tracksel, manager of the Coates Plaza Hotel, told the newspaper: "The Coates Plaza Hotel doesn’t discriminate against any customers. We abide by all the laws of the city and state and the state Health Department code.

"We pay our taxes and provide jobs and do our best to improve the hotel. We have thousands of customers each year and they are pleased with their stay and our staff."

Butorac said he hasn't received any complaints about the parties, but did say he would speak to police to address "unintended secondary effects."

The issue of possible ordinances, meanwhile, was passed on to the city's Street/Alley/Public Safety Committee for further discussion.

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