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Contest flirts with city laws

"Oak Harbor officials say the first business to test the city's lewd conduct ordinance has passed scrutiny - just barely.For Pete's Sake Steak-N-Fresh Seafood House, which is a popular Pioneer Way bar, has recently attracted a lot of attention among local young adults with a twice-weekly, late-night wet T-shirt contest.Oak Harbor Police Captain Rick Wallace said that plain clothes and patrol officers have been keeping tabs on the events and have found that the business is meeting the letter of the law, if not the intent.Numerous signs at the bar invite patrons to Shake Your Money Maker and win cash prizes in a wet T-shirt contest Wednesday and Saturday nights.Wallace said the contest is completely lawful as long as women's breasts are not exposed. The problem is that on at least two occasions women in the wet, white T-shirts have exposed more than the law allows.Wallace said employees at For Pete's Sake met their legal obligations by telling the bared women to cover themselves.Yet City Attorney Phil Bleyhl said the the bar could run into problems if the baring of breasts becomes a regular part of the event. In addition, he said the city's proposed sexually oriented business ordinance, which will go before the City Council in September, might be a little stricter.For Pete's Sake owner Vicki Braicks did not return phone calls.Under the city's current lewd conduct ordinance, indecent exposure, which includes mature female breasts, is a crime punishable by $300 for individuals and $500 for businesses.While the wet T-shirt contests don't meet the legal definition of obscene, they certainly are not subtle events.Wednesday night, about 80 or so people crowded into the For Pete's Sake bar around midnight, just in time to see the contest. Many of the men said that they had come just to watch the event.Five women were in the contest, which was held on a roped-off stage. They each got a free drink for entering, while the winner was awarded $125 and the runner up got $50. The bar supplied them with the T-shirts, which were actually thin sleeveless undershirts.Each women got two chances to dance in front of the hooting crowd while the emcee poured ice water on the participant's chests. Some of the men yelled suggestive comments. One of the contestants was wearing a torn shirt that completely exposed a breast while she was dancing. After she finished her dance, she was disqualified.Local resident Megan Robbins was awarded first place based on the response from the crowd. She came to the bar without knowing about the contest and decided to enter on a whim. She said it was a fun, adrenaline-pumping experience.I thought, 'What's it going to hurt,' she said. You gotta have some fun in life."

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