Savannah man petitions to have clothing optional area on Tybee I - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah man petitions to have clothing optional area on Tybee Island


A Savannah man wants Tybee Island to open a clothing optional portion of the beach.

It's an idea that has garnered lots of buzz on Facebook and the opinions are as wild as the idea.

The petition has enough support to get Mayor Jason Buelterman's attention, and he said his email inbox is lighting up. So for the petition for a nude beach section on Tybee is up to 200 signatures and counting.

Shawn Williams started the petition a few weeks ago, and on Thursday it had 70 signatures, and by the afternoon,  at last count 215 people have signed it.

Williams would like to designate a one quarter section of the beach to be clothing optional, like Haulover Beach in Florida.

Buelterman called this idea a first for Tybee, and longtime residents are just laughing off the suggestion.

"I think it's kind of funny, but it will never happen," said a Rodney Larisy, longtime Tybee resident. "We are still doing the twist on Tybee. It's 1950s, it will never happen here."

The man behind the petition is not laughing. He's dead serious, calling himself a nudist who thinks clothing optional is a choice which needs to be taken seriously.  

Tybee Island lawmakers are calling the petition ridiculous.

It's the first time on Tybee that a clothing optional idea has ever come up officially.

According to some city council members, they said Williams can get a million signatures and it will never happen.

But he's not giving up on his Tybee Nude Beach dream.

While thousands flock to the beach every weekend, William's isn't usually one of them.

"I'm not really a beach kind of guy, but if a portion became nude friendly, I'd be more open to it," he said.

Williams, 22, who lives at home in Savannah, admits he rarely gets out of the house. He decided to start a petition to make his dream a reality.

"For one , I'm a nudist, and one at Tybee would make it much easier," he said.

A clothing optional beach is getting a chilly reaction.

"Really?" Heidi Zohl laughed. "These kids see enough, they don't need to see it at the beach either."

One couple said they thought it would be a good thing, while others extolled that the beach is family friendly and the nudity doesn't belong.

"A lot of close minded people," said Williams. "If you don't like it, don't go to that area. It's just a portion of the beach. You have the rest to go to."

 The petition is asking for a quarter mile of the beach for nudists and nude friendly beachgoers, on an island where some have been fighting unsuccessfully for years to allow dogs.

"This is about respecting other people's likes," said Williams. "By restricting their choices, you are infringing on their rights."

When told that the idea might not work, Williams replied, "But if it does, great."

Mayor Buelterman, who is out of town, said by phone that he's never had this request come his way before. For now, and likely ever, he said Williams may have to leave all his clothes on.

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