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Beyond The Pale, To Roselawn: Nudists In Indiana

In the early 1930s, the Zoro Nature Park in Roselawn was billed as the largest nudist club in the country, attracting visitors from throughout the Midwest.

Straddling the Newton and Jasper County line, the small town of Roselawn could be called the nudist capital of the state. The town of about four thousand is home to two campgrounds catering to people who prefer to sunbathe au naturel.

In the early 1930s, Chicago lawyer and nude recreation proponent Alois Knapp opened Zoro Nature Park. At the time, the club was billed as the largest nudist club in the United States and attracted visitors from throughout the Midwest.

It was in the 1960s that the park began to gain national notoriety. New owner Dick Drost renamed the park Naked City and began hosting a Miss Nude Universe pageant. Drost is responsible for one of the club’s most notable landmarks, a giant sundial in the shape of a woman’s leg.

But the publicity turned negative in 1985 when Drost was charged with molesting a 13-year-old girl at the camp. He pleaded guilty, was given a ten year suspended sentence, and ordered out of Indiana for ten years. Drost moved to California and never returned to Roselawn.

After sitting abandoned for several years, the club has since reopened as Sun Aura Resort.

Another nudist campground, the Ponderosa Sun Club, sits about a mile east of Sun Aura. It hosts the current incarnation of the Miss Nude Universe Pageant and boasts that 600 residents live inside its compound.

Roselawn isn’t the only Hoosier town where nudists congregate. Nudist camps can also be found in Valparaiso, Granger, Bloomington, and Centerville.

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