Cape Cod is no place for Puritans

New England resort within sight of Plymouth Rock sees sex offence prosecutions triple in four years

Call it Cape Cod-piece. The genteel holiday region, which sells itself as one of the last bastions of old-fashioned New England reserve, has launched a crackdown on the growing number of gay orgies taking place on its famed sand dunes.

Visitors to the rugged peninsula – about which Henry David Thoreau declared, "A man may stand there and put all America behind him" – tend to be more concerned with what they end up seeing in front of them. And in recent years, it hasn't always been pretty. More than 130 men were prosecuted for lewd behaviour on Cape Cod last summer after being arrested in the National Seashore, a 43,000-acre national park which contains some of the American east coast's most pristine beaches and uplands. The figure represents an increase of 100 per cent on 2006, and is more than three times the total just four years ago.

Reported misdeeds included "flashing" and public masturbation, but most worrying for local tourist chiefs were several cases of nude orgies involving up to 30 men.

Police records show that a string of family holidays were rudely interrupted by scenes of outdoor hanky-panky. A New Jersey family walking with children in the park's dunes in September apparently encountered "several couples and then a large group of men having group sex in the nude, including oral and anal sex". In a letter dated 17 August, the captain of a whale-watching boat leaving Provincetown harbour complained of seeing 20 to 30 nude men "playing around" near Wood End Lighthouse, on Cape Cod's northerly tip. His boat was carrying dozens of children, many armed with binoculars.

Other first-hand reports described visitors stumbling upon outdoor sex acts involving large groups of men.

This week, in an attempt to crack down on the problem, the region's police announced a "zero tolerance" policy to future displays of public lewdness. "It's not acceptable, decent, moral behaviour," said the area's new police chief, Jeff Jaran. "There are places to go and do those types of things."

No fewer than 13 national park rangers will now be employed to patrol the dunes in search of miscreants, who are generally fined $150 (£76) for "disorderly conduct", plus $20 costs, if a case reaches court. The initiative has highlighted growing tensions between Cape Cod's traditional role as an upmarket destination for America's social and political elite and its new standing as a popular weekend retreat for gay and lesbian travellers.

Situated on the outskirts of Boston, the 20-mile peninsula boasts a solidly puritanical heritage and offers views across Cape Cod Bay to the port of Plymouth, where the Pilgrim Fathers set foot in the New World in 1620. Regular visitors have included several generations of the Kennedy dynasty and Gordon Brown.

However, in recent years, Provincetown, towards the cape's northern tip, has become a colourful gay and lesbian resort, handily placed for day-trippers from Boston or weekenders from New York. Having at first been slow to adjust to the change, local authorities have now announced plans to educate people about the dangers and potential consequences of public lewdness.

Officials held a public meeting last week to discuss the illegal activity with representatives of Cape Cod's business community. Awareness leaflets are to be distributed to hoteliers and bar owners to distribute among their clients. "It's a growing issue, both from the number of complaints and the number of areas doing this activity," Seashore superintendent George Price told the Cape Cod Times. "We certainly want to start a conversation with the people in Provincetown to see how we can tackle this together."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?