Spohn Ranch’s fifth skatepark for the City of Long Beach celebrated its official grand opening this past weekend. It was an amazing day for Long Beach skateboarding and was summed up incredibly well by the Tony Hawk Foundation here.
“Tony Hawk and a group of pro athletes joined about 300 city officials and local youth on Saturday for the grand opening of the Ernest McBride Skatepark in Long Beach, California. The Poly High neighborhood, where the skatepark is located, is home to one of the country’s most diverse urban communities, yet few recreational opportunities are available for its youth. The new 10,000-square-foot skate plaza is considered by local leaders as the area’s best chance to keep kids active, healthy, and safe from gangs and crime.
Spearheaded by former Long Beach City Council Member Mike Donelon and the nonprofit Action Sports Kids (ASK Long Beach) organization, the McBride Skatepark was a collaboration between the city, its citizens, and local advocacy groups. “The City Of Long Beach understands the benefits of skateparks, and is a huge supporter of the kids who ride them,” says Donelon. “Today was the climax of our skatepark program. With the help of the Tony Hawk Foundation, we built a world-class skatepark that is going to keep kids out of gangs and off drugs, and will help them stay active and get along.”
Tony Hawk presented the McBride Skatepark at THF’s Stand Up For Skateparks event in Beverly Hills in 2010, where he helped raise $45,000 for the project. Long Beach has been a leader in providing its at-risk youth with safe, quality public skateparks, and the McBride Skatepark is the latest addition to its ongoing skatepark program.
“It’s an excellent street-plaza design, with just enough transitions to make it well-rounded,” says Hawk. “It has something for all skill levels, and is exactly the type of project, area, and advocacy that we want to get involved with. It should be an example for other communities to follow.”
After a few brief speeches, Hawk and fellow celebrity skaters Geoff Rowley, Ron Chatman, Riley Hawk, Danny Gonzalez, Daewon Song, Chad Tim Tim, Clive Dixon, and Danny Montoya, plus BMXers Aaron Ross, Dakota Roche, and Gabe Brooks ripped through the park, demonstrating its potential before being joined by the hundreds of local youth who were keen to have their turn. “It was a blast,” says Hawk. “The kids were so eager to skate that we cut our demo short to let them in.”
Of the nearly 500 skateparks the Tony Hawk Foundation has helped to fund, the Ernest McBride Skatepark is the 417th to open. It’s a free, open-access facility that welcomes all wheeled youth—skateboarders, BMXers,
Throughout the development of the skatepark—from planning to fundraising to design—local youth were engaged and integral to the process. Now that their efforts have resulted in Long Beach’s latest public amenity, they can take pride in knowing that they helped create it. As both the City Of Long Beach and the Tony Hawk Foundation have understood for more than a decade, involving the youth in the process of developing the skatepark, and allowing them to invest their time and effort in the project, is the best way to ensure the park’s long-term success.
And the kids who were previously chased by police for riding their skateboards on city streets learned a thing or two about how local government can work for them; the skatepark stands as a concrete reminder of what they’ve accomplished through collaboration, cooperation, and compromise.”
All photos by Anthony Acosta.