In celebration of Earth Day, more than a dozen students wearing nothing but green paint and a few accessories bike around the University of Maine campus in Orono in this 2009 file photo. University of Maine ecology professor Jacquelyn Gill was sitting in her office on the UMaine campus one spring morning a few years ago and happened to glance out her window to see a large group of people standing on the lawn, taking off all their clothes, painting themselves green and getting on bicycles.
She soon learned she was looking at the starting point for the yearly Earth Day naked bike ride across campus, a tradition at UMaine that stretches back nearly 50 years.
“They were right outside my window, congregating. It genuinely surprised me the first time because I was not expecting it,” Gill said. “I eventually realized it was an Earth Day tradition. Students are getting out there and raising awareness about the environment in all kinds of creative ways, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Nobody seems to know exactly when UMaine’s naked bike ride tradition started or if people have always painted their bodies green and other spring-y colors, though it appears to have begun right around the time that the first Earth Day was held in 1970. It’s happened nearly every year since, though not in 2020, when students had left campus due to the pandemic. Left; Seven unidentified UMaine students celebrated Earth Day 2002 with the wearing green and not much else while […]