Skateboarding, skating event for prizes set for Sunday in Charleston
The Charleston Parks and Recreation Department will host a rollicking, rolling scavenger hunt on Sunday, June 18 in downtown Charleston.
The inaugural, wheels-only event will take place from noon until 2 p.m. Sunday throughout the capital city. Check-ins will begin at 11 a.m. at the Haddad Riverfront Park overlook on Kanawha Boulevard, East.
To compete, participants must complete a waiver and submit it no later than Friday, June 16. Participants must be on skateboards, although roller skaters are welcome to compete, as well.
Local businesses have donated prizes for the scavenger hunt, which is open to land-shredders and skaters of all ages. Those ages 12 or younger are required, however, to have a parent or guardian on site.
“It’s a first-time event,” Charleston Parks and Recreation Department Program Coordinator Julianne Yacovone said. “I knew I wanted to do something for skateboarders, because it seems that there are a lot of them in the area. I was driving around and seeing more and more skateboarders. There’s really nowhere for them to skateboard, and I’d never really heard of any events in the area.
“We’re big on trying to do new stuff; with so much going on, it’s hard to find new stuff to do,” Yacovone said. “I met Trace Corley through a friend. Trace is very involved in the skateboarding community, so I went to him and asked if he’d like to do something for skateboarders.”
“I have been skateboarding since I was 13 years old, so roughly 15 years,” Corley said of his pastime. “I started because a bunch of my new friends in middle school had already been skating for a year or so. I lived on a farm in Elkview, so I had to go to my friends’ house in Pinch any time I wanted to ride. We eventually got some skate parks, indoor and outdoor, in Charleston, so our parents would drop us off for the day.
“As the years went by,” Corley said, “I slowly learned how hard it was to keep an indoor skate park running within city limits. Also, the outdoor park was becoming too small for us, because we kept learning at an early age. Finding a safe space to learn or cruise around can be very hard when there isn’t a skate park. A lot of people enjoy the aspect of street skating, but, at times, they need a place to practice. Skate parks are a constant in the fact they have smooth concrete and perfect obstacles for people to skate, instead of finding a rundown spot that you can barely ride on because the ground is so tough or you’re weaving in and out of traffic.”
To that end, Corley said, he hopes Sunday’s scavenger hunt will initiate a broader community interest in developing a safe, high-quality gathering place for local skateboarders.
“The whole purpose of this event is to create awareness for a skate park within Charleston, a park that fits all the requirements for beginner to advanced levels of skateboarding while also being able to accommodate bikes and our roller derby people. We want a safe place for the youth and the older crowd to be able to exercise while creating a better community,” the North Charleston resident said.
“Currently, I will travel 45 minutes out of my way to go skate the Barboursville skate park, because it has everything in a condensed area that is very fun. These skate parks create tourism and bring more people from out of town. Our city has a lot of great places to visit downtown, so a lot of the older crowds that are able to travel would make it a place to stop, because many of them pass through on I-64,” Corley said.
“Julianne came to me about wanting to do something skateboarding related in Charleston. We sat down and discussed a regular contest format, something that you would see on TV, and realized it is not feasible to do here,” he said. “The Coonskin skate park was not close enough, and we could not do it legally downtown, because we would be vandalizing public or private property.
“We had a few more meetings, and I came up with the idea of a scavenger hunt, because anyone could participate. It would take no amount of skill and would not be destroying any property.”
He also invited area roller derby enthusiasts to roll with the skateboarders on Sunday.
“We wanted to encourage our derby girls to come, as well, because it is ‘Go Skate Day,’” Corley said, “and that group of people would be using a skate park just as much as any skateboarder within the city. They have always supported my [skateboarding] project, Gnarleston, and they deserve a safe place to ride, as well.”
Corley has posted a documentary video about the local skateboarding scene and efforts to establish an area skate park. It can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3rxvCKPkTY.
Yacovone said each participant will receive a map of the scavenger hunt locales on Sunday. “They will be given the limits of where things will be hidden. There are different borders. The Clay Center will be one border and Capitol Market will be another border, for example.”
And if skaters become stymied in their searches and certain items cannot be located, she said, “coordinates and clues will be sent out, so they can follow those.”
Yacovone said Sunday’s free-wheeling hunt is part of the Parks and Recreation Department’s ongoing endeavors to make residents more exercise oriented and physically fit.
“We’re trying to do a lot of things to get the community more active and get people out into our parks,” she said.
“We are hoping that this has a great turnout,” Corley added. “We want to promote alternative exercising activities in the city. There is a whole group of people in the city who would do what is called extreme sports and have no place to go. We accommodate traditional sports and even other extreme sports such as motocross and jet ski races during Sports Fest. They literally tear up Magic Island and do not bat an eye, but trying to put a skate park in the city is very frowned upon. Skate parks can be a piece of art for a city. Some skate park designers really look forward to gaining knowledge about the cities’ traditions and history to incorporate that into the design.
“Skateboarding culture has a stigma attached to it, that it’s a group of people who loiter, use or sell drugs and or do graffiti. In fact, all of them are hard-working people who are actively involved with their community. Each of them brings something new to the table for younger generations to learn about.
“Personally, I learned how to do more new skateboarding tricks, basic carpentry, run a business, photography, filming full-length videos while learning to edit on a computer, community service and networking skills. All of these aspects are important to any teenager’s or young adult’s life, and we hope to teach these skills for years to come,” Corley said.
To obtain a waiver or receive additional information, contact Julianne Yacovone at 304-348-6860 or Julianne.firstname.lastname@example.org or Trace Corley at Gnarleston2012@gmail.com.