Skateboarding is a national past time of many American teens.
Nobody is sure exactly when it originated, but the best guesses are around the 1940s-1960s when surfers were looking for another way to practice during times the waves were flat.
Places specifially built for people to skate, called skate parks, started popping up in the 1970s.
Reports have said that there are over 12 million skateboarders in the US and close to 50 million skateboarders in the world, so building places like this are a necessity for the safety of the boarders.
Most skateboarders are under the age of 18 and are predominately male. Having a skate park to visit after school hours gives these kids a safe environment to skate and comfort to their parents knowing that they are safe.
The Springfield Skate Park Project opened in Springfield to do just that. It provides a safe place for kids to be and opens at 3:00pm Tuesday-Friday, plus it is open for almost the entire day on both Saturday and Sunday.
The park began gathering donations and started construction in 1999.
Opened in April 2001, the Springfield Skate Park Project offers dozens of different options for people on skateboards, scooters, bikes, and even rollerblades!
With two different areas indoors totalling over 15,000 square feet and another gigantic 20,000 square foot outdoor area, there are nearly endless possibilities to what tricks the riders can come up with.
The outdoor section was partially built by well known skate park producers Team Pain out of Winter Park, Florida.
The inside section recently underwent a $40,000 renovation to replace the wood on some of the ramps and bowls. This created a smoother surface and higher quality experience for the skaters.
Jeff Grace, the President of the Board of Directors for the skatepark, says he sees a huge influx of skaters come in on Fridays and Saturdays, sometimes reaching totals of 75-100 people. If there are events this number can jump up to 300-400 people passing through in an evening.
While the park has been running on donations and functioning as a nonprofit since opening in 2001, Jeff says that there are plans to let the city take over. This will provide the funding that is needed to repair some concrete in the outdoor areas and to renovate some parts of the inside as well.
The Springfield Skate Park Project hosts many events as well to get people in the area excited about skating.
On May 31st the park is hosting an “All Nighter” event that runs from 10:00pm to 9:00am. There will be contests, games, food, and is guaranteed to be tons of fun.
June 21st is Go Skate Day, where the park is open for free! Jeff Grace said that this provides many who may not be able to afford to come on a regular basis a chance to get excited about skating while also enjoying some hot dogs fresh off the grill.
The skate park also has bred some local skate celebrities, like Sebastian “Seabass” Koder. Take a look at this video shot and edited by Waldo Broodryk, another well known skater at the park who also created and maintains the website and promotional materials.
For more information about hours, events, and even prize drawings, check out their website!