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The No Pants Subway Ride is an annual flash mob event in which transit passengers ride trains without wearing pants in January. Organized by New York City-based comedy troupe Improv Everywhere since January 2002, the event has grown into an international holiday observed in over 60 cities around the world, as of January 2014.
The inaugural event began as a small prank by a group of early members of Improv Everywhere on New York City subway train on January 5th, 2002. In this prank, each participant entered the same car without pants for seven consecutive stops on an uptown-bound 6 train, intriguing dozens of other passengers in the same car and even managing to upset a few. The hidden camera footage of the stunt was subsequently uploaded to YouTube.
According to the Austin Chronicles, the earliest known “No Pants” holiday has been hosted by the Knighthood of Buh, a collegiate club at the University of Texas in Austin, and observed across the campus on the first Friday of May as an end-of-semester prank since the late 1990s.
More information on the history of the annual event can be found on the official Improv Everywhere website.
The second event was staged by approximately 30 participants on a New York City subway train, with several people assuming characters for the first time. According to the report, the conductor eventually took notice of the prank and warned over the PA that “this train is not a playground.”
The third annual event was staged by 40 participants and filmed by ABC News 20/20’s camera crew for a segment on Improv Everywhere, however, the footage was never aired.
The fourth event was staged by around 50 people and filmed by Showtime’s This American Life for a segment on the group.
The fifth event drew around 150 participants and took place on a New York City subway train on January 22nd, 2006. The event was highlighted in the news after it was abruptly halted by a police officer, leading to the arrest of eight participants on the 6 Train’s 59th Street platform. The charges were subsequently dropped in the court.
The sixth event was staged by 300 participants on The event proceeded in a peaceful manner, with three police officers monitoring the assembly, and according to the group, it was the first year that “No Pants really started becoming diverse, with people of all colors, shapes, sizes, and ages participating.”
The seventh annual event drew over 900 participants in New York and took place on three separate train lines. For the first time in its history, the event was observed elsewhere in nine cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Toronto, Washington DC and Adelaide in Australia.
The eighth annual ride drew 1,200 participants in New York and thousands of more in 21 other cities around the world. The event is noted for being the first No Pants day to take place during a winter storm in New York City.
The ninth event was staged by 3,000 participants across six meeting points and ten subway lines in New York alone, while thousands of others took off their pants in 44 cities around the world.
The 10th event drew more than 3,500 participants in New York and thousands more in 48 cities across the globe.
The 11th annual event took place with nearly 4,000 participants in New York and tens of thousands more in 59 cities across 27 countries around the world. Several riders were reportedly arrested in Istanbul, Turkey.
For the 12th annual No Pants Subway Ride, more than 4,000 people participated in New York and tens of thousands more in 60 cities, including debut rides in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The 13th annual No Pants Subway Ride took place with more than 4,000 participants starting from various meeting points over the city and converging on Union Square. Similar events were observed in 60 cities across 25 countries.