Monday, April 21, 2008

Naked Pandas Take Over Florida! (Or at Least They're Trying)

The Tampa Tribune
Published: April 21, 2008

DADE CITY - A group of local naturists wants to share their secret: Pasco County is a nudist Mecca.

"The naturist community is a diamond in the rough," Marcia Stone, a member of the grass-roots group, told the Tourist Development Council on Wednesday. "We want to market Pasco County as a nudist destination. We need to let them know what we have."

PANDAbare, which stands for Pasco Area Nudist Development Association, is reaching out to local organizations for support. Stone and organization president Paul Brenot asked the TDC on Wednesday for a $15,000 grant to promote Pasco as a nudist destination through its Web site.
Pasco has about a dozen nudist communities, including Lake Como, Caliente and Paradise Lakes, all of which are in Land O' Lakes and double as year-round resorts, Brenot noted.

The TDC, which makes recommendations to the county commission, told Brenot and Stone they do not award grants to organizations for general promotion through a Web site but encouraged the group to seek a grant to promote a specific event they want to advertise.

"We look at funding different sporting events," County Commissioner Jack Mariano, chairman of the TDC, told Brenot at a meeting at the historic Pasco County Courthouse. "We've never done anything like this at all. ...I don't see an event here. I see this as a promotional thing that's not event-tied."

TDC member Jack Phethean of the Little Everglades Steeplechase said the TDC allocated funds to promote events that encourage overnight stays at hotels in Pasco.

"We need a hook," Phethean said. "If you have a specific event, fine, but just as an ongoing special event, that's where we have a roadblock."

Toby Caroline, a TDC member representing clothing-optional Paradise Lakes Resort, said she encouraged PANDAbare to focus its pitch on specific events, such as a volleyball tournament and a car show.

State law says revenue from a 2 percent tax on hotel stays and short-term rentals may be used for activities, services, venues or events that promote tourism, Pasco Public Communications Manager Eric Keaton said.

"They don't have an event, but they do have a service, which is the Web site." lists nudist-friendly businesses, resorts and events at local nudist communities.

Reporter Julia Ferrante can be reached at (813) 948-4220 or


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