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Thousands Fill Union Square Subway Station for Annual No-Pants Ride

By DNAinfo Staff on January 12, 2014 8:19pm

 It was an annual gathering as the Improv Everywhere phenomenon continued to turn heads.
Annual No Pants Subway Ride 2014
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By Skyler Reid and Nathan Place
Special to DNAinfo.com New York

NEW YORK CITY — Gina Mikan was not the only person to "forget" her pants today.

Hundreds of straphangers took to the subway and dropped their trousers on Sunday for the No Pants Subway Ride, an annual tradition that started in New York City and has spread around the world.

"Any excuse to take my clothes off in public is welcomed," said Mikan, 36. This year was her first time participating in the event, as it was for many others.

The No Pants Subway Ride began as just a small prank by a group of friends back in 2002, when Charlie Todd, founder of the group Improv Everywhere, invited a few of his friends to pull off an amusing stunt on the New York City subway.

"The idea was just very simple,” Todd says in a video on the group’s website. “What would happen if, in the middle of January, a guy got onto a subway car in his underwear but was also wearing a winter coat, scarf, gloves, hat."

Since then, the event has become a global phenomenon, with thousands of participants in 62 cities around the world, ranging from Cairo to Hong Kong, Jerusalem to Buenos Aires. More than 4,000 people were listed as "attending" on the New York City event's Facebook page as of Sunday evening.

"I think people do it just because they kinda get a rush out of it. It's exciting, it's different,” said Matt Adams, a longtime member of Improv Everywhere. Adams created a documentary about the group, which premiered at the South by Southwest film festival last March.

The New York City event is still something of a draw, and visitors come from around the world to join in and drop trou together.

This year some pantsless participants said that a few eager straphangers spontaneously joined in the fun.

Kirsty Annette, 27, said that after she and her friends dropped their pants on the 7 train, a few Chinese and Taiwanese tourists suddenly dropped theirs as well.

"I love seeing people's reactions to crazy things," Annette said.

Other bystanders were less eager to join in. "I said to myself, what's going on?" said Edwin Santos, 54, of Brooklyn. "What is this, a lingerie sale?”

Adams takes pleasure in the fact that, as much as the event he helped build has grown in the last twelve years, it still has the capacity to surprise people. "I think that's the beauty of it happening in New York City," he said.

"There's always going to be somebody that doesn't know that this is the day that people in New York City take their pants off on the subway."