Heather Robbins, 28, struggled to take off her pants Sunday afternoon as she held onto a pole on a Metro train, bumping along from the L’Enfant Plaza station.

“Oh, are you really looking at my crotch right now?” the Annapolis resident asked a cameraman as he filmed her taking off her pants and showing off green plaid underwear to take part in the annual “No Pants Metro Ride.” “My mother’s going to be so proud. She’s pretty conservative.”

Robbins wasn’t part of the Occupy D.C. movement or protest ing anything. She was one of about 200 men and women who rode the Metro without their pants.

The motive: simply to have fun. And maybe get a few laughs and stares.

The annual event, in its fifth year in the District, also is done in other cities, including New York and Los Angeles, said Bruce Witzenburg with Capitol Improv, the sponsor.

Ace Elsea, 25, of Alexandria, right, and another rider take part in the “No Pants Metro Ride.” (Dana Hedgpeth/The Washington Post)

The participants gathered — with their pants on — in a park near the L’Enfant Plaza station and boarded the Metro, dispersing throughout rail cars. Once on the train, they dropped their trousers.

Other passengers stared. One woman covered her eyes with a purple scarf as a woman in hot pink panties stood in front of her, surrounded by a few men in tighty whities.

Ciara McKeiver of Upper Marlboro couldn’t help but laugh as she and her three friends were quickly surrounded by people taking off their pants on the train as they headed to Friendship Heights. “It’s crazy. You gotta be bold to walk around like this,” she said, as a woman in tight Superman underwear passed her.

Organizers said things were a “bit more complicated” this year because of weekend track work, which made waits longer. But milder-than-usual temperatures at least made the wait more comfortable. Organizers reminded the pantless riders to hit the tourist sites — Metro Center and Arlington Cemetery — for maximum impact. Final destination for the no-pants crowd: a bar on U Street NW.

At Metro Center, Kim McGrain, wearing a Batman T-shirt and matching yellow and black Batman underwear with black rain galoshes, got a few looks as Italian tourists passed her. McGrain, who just got out of the Navy and works for a library by day, said she drove from Southern Maryland to participate in the no-pants event.

“It was on my New Year’s bucket list,” she said.

Ashley Houghton of Northwest Washington came from a bluegrass jam session with her banjo in tow. “We all have ridiculously intense jobs and work too hard,” she said, sporting a pair of black cotton panties from Old Navy. “And we’re wearing ill-fitting gray suits all week.

“There’s merit in collective silliness,” she said. “There’s something lovely about a group of people willing to do something whimsical.”

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