The No Pants Light Rail Ride Has, Yes, Been Canceled

You'll have to go pantsless somewhere else next month.
You'll have to go pantsless somewhere else next month. Benjamin Leatherman
Pranksters of the Valley, keep your pants on. Organizers of the annual No Pants Light Rail Ride have called off its 2021 event. To the surprise of no one, COVID-19 is the cause.

The ride, which is put on by prankster group Improv Arizona every January and involves people boarding Valley Metro’s light rail trains in their underwear, was canceled earlier this week.

Guess you’ll have to find another excuse to take your pants off in public.

It’s the first time since its debut 11 years ago that the event won’t be happening, notes the statement posted to Improv Arizona’s Facebook account.

Jeff Moriarty of Improv Arizona said the group briefly considered doing the event with social distancing, only to nix the plan.

click to enlarge Participants of 2020's No Pants Light Rail Ride. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Participants of 2020's No Pants Light Rail Ride.
Benjamin Leatherman
“There was just so much chance for things to go wrong,” he says. “And [it would take] only one sick person to make it go wrong for tons of people.”

The news comes on the heels of similar rides across the country being canceled. No Pants Rides were started on the New York City subway in 2002 by comedy collective Improv Everywhere. The concept has since expanded worldwide, with spin-off groups in various cities running rides on the same day each January. (Phoenix’s version started in 2009 after the Valley Metro’s light rail service began.)

Moriarty says Improv Arizona was waiting to see if other No Pants Rides were happening in 2021 before calling off their event.

“The decision to ultimately cancel came from [Improv Everywhere],” he says. “They canceled the event globally and sent all the major organizers an email about it.”

Improv Arizona plans to hold the event in 2022, Moriarty says.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.