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US CitySlicker Cole: Go Skateboard, GR!

June 21st is the day to Go Skateboard! Armed with her cameras, Cole set out with some friends into the city. Let's take a look at what you can and can't find in Grand Rapids, MI to honor the occasion.

Photo by deja-mew

I would love to tell you all that Grand Rapids has an amazing skate scene. We have so many options for every other scene, it seems. If you’re looking for a gigantic skate park in town, you’re out of luck.

However, if I know one thing is true about skaters, they are extremely innovative. With the closing of our last indoor skate park (known as “Modern”), I was afraid I was going to have nothing to write about for you all! After calling a few of my friends, they dispelled my worries. I may be revealing a well-kept secret to the world, but I think these kids deserve credit for what they’ve done.

Welcome to Clemente Park! This old park just west of the Grand River is home to a wonderful little cement park. It’s not too glamorous. It doesn’t have any huge half-pipes. But it’s a whole lot of fun! My friends took me there, late one June evening. My pal Roy had his brother and friends in town, and invited his friend Nick along. I hadn’t met them before. I think they were a little wary of me at first, but then we started getting into it.

I tried out taking some shots on the last of my first roll to be cross processed. They turned out darker than the CN film I used, but I still got some great snaps. It was a lot of fun (and quite thrilling) to have these kids riding so close to me!

Just this last summer, Clemente Park had barely anything to show for itself. They had a few ramps, and a few poles. Roy told me about how his friend built some of the new ramps and obstacles this spring. We had amazing 70 degree weather in FEBRUARY (this is unheard of). I don’t blame them for wanting to get out and skate!

I must take a moment to mention, in some of the photos you can see that one of the guys, Nick, is holding a longboard. Longboarding is extremely popular here. I didn’t get the chance to go ride and shoot with them, but I’m sure I will soon. It’s a different way to skate. Longboarding is more relaxed; it’s less about tricks and more about speed. I started using my friend’s longboard last summer, but he moved to South Korea this spring. I miss being able to ride. It’s a blast! Longboards are a lot smoother, as their giant wheels absorb a lot more of the bumps and cracks. I also find my balance a lot faster. The surface is easier to feel and control, but that might just be me.

Grand Rapids really needs a better skate scene. We’re not allowed to skate within the parameters of Lafayette to Monroe, and Fulton St. to Michigan St. For anyone not skating in GR, that’s really just gibberish. But, I’ve had friends get fined for skating there. This includes the Community College area, which is a real bummer for some of their students.

We may not have much, but Grand Rapids skaters are taking care of that. Hopefully by the next Go Skateboarding Day there will be more places to ride!

written by deja-mew

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