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ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - A central Florida city is banning low-riding pants, becoming the latest community in the country to outlaw a fashion choice that intentionally exposes underwear or buttocks.
Pull up your pants, offenders will be warned under the ordinance approved on Tuesday by the Ocala city council, or else face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.
The ban on saggy pants was immediately effective on city property, including streets, sidewalks, parks, public pools and municipal buildings. Ocala joins several U.S. cities prohibiting or campaigning against what many defend as a fashion statement.
Councilwoman Mary Rich said the city is not trying to play fashion police but rather ensure public decency.
"You wouldn’t want your mother coming to an affair downtown at the square and having people with their pants down to their knees,” said Rich, 73, who has fought for the ban for six years.
Rich said police intend to issue warnings first in hopes violators will willingly hike up their pants.
Ocala’s ban follows a law passed by Florida legislators prohibiting low-riding pants at school starting with the 2011-12 academic year.
In recent years, airlines reportedly have refused to board passengers with droopy pants and at least one judge in Alabama sentenced a 20-year-old to three days in jail because his pants choice was deemed in contempt of court.
Reaction to the ban was swift and often irreverent in posts published on the website of the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper.
“Who wears their pants up around their waist? I remember wearing hip huggers,” wrote Gena Pisani.
From a poster using the name King Julian: “Plumbers will be outraged with these six-month jail sentences they get from walking into a McDonald's to get lunch!”
Editing by Letitia Stein