At some point before midnight, January 1, 2010, Rodney Furkin will jog nude through Waterside one more time. What began as a dare during Harborfest 1989 has stretched into a two decade long streak of streaking the downtown Norfolk marketplace at least once a month. For the last few years, Rodney, a 43-year-old ice delivery truck driver from Portsmouth, has been able to stroll Waterside at a leisurely pace totally unclothed - sometimes completely alone. "It's weird," he says, "nobody's there at all in the daytime anymore. I can get food at Mongolian Express, read a book on a bench in the food court completely nude and not be bothered. That would have been impossible back in '93 or '94!"
Prior to its current flaccid state, Waterside was a bustling social center. "I used to time my streaks for maximum crowd levels. Friday nights were the best, right after the Fudgery would sing a song and people would be lined up for free samples. I'd sprint by and surprise everybody. Security would chase me, but I was super fast in those days. Never got caught. Ever."
Steve Conkle, owner of the "Maximum Keychain Extravaganza" kiosk, says the public nudity is good for Waterside's rapidly shrinking business. "People get a real kick out of it. Rod will stop and let people take their picture with him...well, when there are people. He's like a celebrity around here. Plus, he's a real nice guy. Last Christmas he wore a Santa hat and helped me unpack and set up a new shipment of keychains. I'm gonna miss him." Waterside's Assistant Manager of Public Relations, Bonnie Thurmell, did not return Tidewater Log's phone calls to comment on this story. When we knocked on her slightly open office door it opened - revealing a skeleton wearing a wig and glasses, sitting behind a desk covered in cobwebs. She still refused to comment.
Why is Rodney stopping now - right when Waterside needs him the most? "I'm getting old," he explains, "This summer I slipped on a slippery spot near the elevator and laid there on the ground, moaning in pain for about 6 hours before somebody noticed me...and streaking on crutches for a while after that just wasn't as exhilarating. I'm okay now, but it's time to pass the baton to someone else. I'd like to hope Waterside stays open for at least a few more years so somebody can have as much fun streaking it as I did. It used to be a real blast. I met my wife while I was doing it in August of 2000!"
Rodney won't give any details on when his final nude running will take place, but offers some advice for the new guy...or gal that wants to keep the streak streak going beyond 2009 - "Watch out for glass, hide your getaway clothes somewhere good, and smile."
Rodney streaked Waterside one last time between 12:41 and 12:48 P.M. on December 31, 2009 - and received a standing ovation from the janitor