Clothing is not optional on Sarasota County’s beaches — though a convincing Facebook post from a parody page has plenty of people thinking otherwise.
“We would like to remind everybody that on June 9th, the East section of Siesta Key Beach will be designated as a ‘Clothing optional’ beach from 6am to 9pm,” reads last Monday’s Facebook post from an account called “Sarasota County.” “Please plan your beach days accordingly and have a great week!”
The Sarasota County page’s “about me” section says “if you are looking for the Official Sarasota County Government page, please visit https://www.facebook.com/SRQCountyGov/. We are a satire account.”
That didn’t stop over 16,000 people from sharing the post. Some locals were in on the joke. Others fell for it.
“I wonder if they have to wear a mask,” wrote a commenter who goes by Pete Pete.
Sarasota County — the government agency, not the satire page — is aware of the post. A spokesperson confirmed that there are no new clothing optional beach areas.
“We do remind folks that is a fake parody account,” said Brianne Grant, media relations officer. “This page has been in existence since before Hurricane Irma.”
Grant hadn’t heard any reports of folks heading to the beaches sans bathing suit in the last week.
“The county is definitely making sure that folks are monitoring and following the official county accounts, which have the blue verification logo.”
News of the post spread to lifeguards in Manatee County, but no one came to the beach trying to act on it, said Lt. Karen Burkett of the Manatee County Beach Patrol. If someone did show up naked, they would be asked to leave.
“I think for the most part, people understand it’s a hoax,” she said.