Smiles lit up the faces of pedestrians in Center City Saturday as they stopped in their tracks just after 5:30 p.m.
With cell phones set on record, they cheered, waved and applauded the parade of bike riders in varying states of undress participating in the annual Philly Naked Bike Ride.
An estimated 1,000 riders, sometimes riding eight across, made their way from FDR Park in South Philadelphia, through the Italian Market and Center City, and finished up at Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The route of the race had been kept secret until 5 p.m. Friday, 24 hours before the race. Riders gathered at FDR Park shortly after 2 pm. One after another they shed their clothes, revealing an assortment of body types, tattoos and piercings.
As a steady stream of cars passed, drivers slowed to a near crawl to get a better look.
Warren Daniels had come from Crystal City, Va. He had been disappointed by the poor turnout at Washington, D.C.’s Naked Bike Ride, so he came to Philadelphia, which has the nation’s second-largest.
Other Virginians who came to the ride were Tammy and Alan Harrison. The Harrisons run the White Tail Resort, a family nudist resort in Ivor, Va. They were joined by a half-dozen resort members.
Now in its 11th year, the annual race was moved from September to August to provide better weather conditions for the riders. The 2019 temperatures “were pretty much perfect,” said Maria Lily, one of the ride’s organizers.