With one of the longest and chilliest cold snaps in years taking hold across south Louisiana, everyone seems to be bundling up. Even nudists.
“We may be nudists, but we ain’t stupid,” said Travis David, who does maintenance work at the Indian Hills Nudist Park in Slidell — Louisiana’s only such attraction.
David was fully clothed — heavily clothed — from head to toe Tuesday, responding to calls about broken pipes from the prolonged freezing temperatures the roughly 50-acre park just west of Slidell has seen over the last few days.
His face, though, was red from exposure to the low wind chills — a different, and more limited, sort of exposure than he has at warmer times of the year.
That’s because, for David, doing everything from cleaning up to putting in light bulbs isn’t a good reason to put on clothes.
The cold, on the other hand, is … unless the situation calls for it.
“On Dec. 8 when it snowed, he got naked and in the (heated) pond,” park operator Tracia Kraemer said.
Much like this week, temperatures got cold enough to cause problems with pipes then. Having one of those pipes break in the pond left little alternative but for David to strip down and dive in.
“It was fun, though,” he said.
But David wasn’t the only one who took it all off to take in the rare snowfall.
“We have some that come out. They don’t care,” said Hilda Kraemer, Tracia’s mother-in-law and the park's owner. “When it was snowing we had six people in the hot tub.”
The 101-degree hot tub and 91-degree pool have been empty this week, though. As have fishing areas at the two stocked ponds and many of the 13 cabins on the property, Tracia Kraemer said — nothing unusual for December and January.
That doesn’t stop the park from hosting parties every Friday and Saturday, though, or a New Year’s Eve party that drew 80 people to pack the recently renovated clubhouse Sunday night, leaving every cabin booked and some guests even sleeping in tents.
Events like the one on New Year’s Eve count as a major success for Tracia Kraemer, who said the park has taken a 180-degree turn from the direction it was going in when she and her family took over as owners in 2015.
“We’ve about doubled business,” she said. “We’ve added new rental cabins, we have a lot of fun parties, and I think the most important thing is we’ve made it comfortable for women to be here.”
Tracia Kraemer said there were some issues in the past, but the park now “holds people to a higher standard of behavior,” which she said has attracted more women.
Another crowd the park has been trying to tap into is a younger one; the majority of park-goers are in their 40s through 60s.
Tracia Kraemer said they’ve been making progress, including recently hosting a group of young people for a few days who were on their way to New Orleans.
“It’s not just about old, fat, ugly people,” she said.
Still, any sort of nudist boom hasn’t been too visible this week.
But Tracia Kraemer said that’s just because of the way nudists deal with the cold.
“We don’t,” she said.