Thousands of people of all ages — many armed with skateboards, BMX bikes and roller skates — converged Saturday for the grand opening of the new state-of-the-art South Kitsap Skate Park.
The large crowd was welcomed by sunny skies and warm temperatures.
Park Project Coordinator Ric Catron, of the Kitsap County Park and Recreation, said he estimated about 3,000 people were in attendance at last Saturday’s event.
State Rep. Jan Angel and Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido also were on hand for the ceremony and ribbon cutting, along with Park and Recreation officials, City of Port Orchard officials and members of the county park board.
Angel was a Kitsap County commissioner when plans for the skate park began.
“When I drove by last night (Friday) and saw all the kids all over the park, it made my heart smile,” Angel said. “The kids of South Kitsap hadn’t had anything like this. I am so excited for everyone. This will be a crown, a jewel in South Kitsap.”
She also urged skaters to be safe and “wear their helmets.”
“What a great pleasure to see kids at the skate park,” Garrido said. “The work, the donations, the volunteers and work that has gone into this skate park has been on the shoulders of this group (SKSPA). People in this community worked hard to make it a park.”
Garrido said in 1978 that 85-year-old Rachel Collins worked with commissioners to get the land designated as a county park.
South Kitsap Skate Park Association President Leslie Reynolds-Taylor reflexed over the project.
“This has been such an interesting project,” Reynolds-Taylor said. “Some good things and some hard things, but we have done a good job.”
SKSPA representatives presented Garrido with a check for $110,000 — money the group raised toward construction of the skate park.
Garrido said the county spent $780,000 for the skate park.
“It is going to grow even larger with your assistance,” she said. “Today we are close to having a $1 million skate park in South Kitsap. Imagine what that is going to do for our kids, for our future and for our community.”
Roller derby skater Michelle “Estro-Gen” Stallen, who resides in Long Beach, was among the thousands who hit the park during the grand opening.
“This park is so amazing,” Estro-Gen said. “This park has a little bit of everything like the snake run, bowl and full pipe.”
She said Long Beach has the most amount of skate parks per capita.
“There are not any skate parks in Long Beach with a full pipe,” she said. “There are only a few parks in the whole country who have full pipes.”
Estro-Gen skates for the Long Beach Derby Gals and also designs roller skates and owns a skate shop.
Professional skaterboarder Amy Caron came all the way from Long Beach, Calif., to test out the new facility.
“This park is pretty rad,” she said. “They’ll be able to hold different kinds of competition here.”
She said the new park offers a variety of skating, such as street and vertical skating.
“On this park, you can’t get bored and do whatever you want,” Caron said. “I think it’s totally cool for kids.”
Caron has competed in the X Games since 2003.
During the day, there was a skating clinic, raffle for a pair of bicycles, pro skater and bicycle demonstration, contests, and live music. Marshall Reed, of 35th North Skate Shop in Seattle, served as the emcee. Live music was provided throughout the event.
The day before the grand opening, Alex Jacobson, 29, of Port Orchard, joined about a dozen other people during the early hours of the first day the park was open.
“It’s awesome,” Jacobson said. “It really easy to push around and have fun. It’s pretty good exercise.”
Jacobson said he skateboarded as a teen, but his son is getting him back on the board.
“It’s pretty fun with lots of places to jump,” said Jacobson’s son, Phoenix.
Mark Merek, 43, and his 5-year-old son, Jackson, came all the way from Lynnwood to tryout the new skate park.
“I like it as much as he does,” Merek said.
He said he heard about the new skate park through his son’s skating team.
“I wanted to get to the park before everyone else so I could skate,” Merek said. “I’ve going been skating a few years.”
He said the park was nice and he had to get use to some of the park’s angles.
The skate park is open until dusk.