Even through the Louisiana heat and dodgy summer storms, kids and teenagers alike flock to the BREC skate park. BREC, or the Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, redesigned the extreme sports park in the middle of Baton Rouge in late 2010. Its 52 acres of greatness include a BMX track, a rock climbing wall, and of course, the skate park. My Nikon FM10 and I trekked out there this month in honor of World Skateboarding Day to find out more about the skaters of the Greater Baton Rouge Area.
I ended up meeting five friends: Ray, Andrew, Gage, Austin, and Jerome.
All five skateboarders came to this park at different times and for different reasons. Although Ray has only two years of experience under his belt while Jerome has six, both Jerome and Ray attributed their interest in skateboarding to hours of Tony Hawk video games and TV. I can’t blame them, watching the X-Games makes me want to take up skateboarding every year myself. Like Jerome, Austin began six years ago after watching his step-brother. Andrew switched to skateboarding a year ago after breaking his arm biking, even pointing out to me the exact spot of the fall, not far from where we were sitting. Gage started five years ago, and while he insists it’s a lame story, I still think it’s fate that he found his first board near a dumpster, ready to be thrown away, but still in perfect condition for skating.
After all the introductions were through, this laidback group took me through their world of skateboarding. Whereas I originally wanted to write a story on the artwork on the deck itself, I quickly had to scrap that idea. “No, it’s what’s on the inside of the board that counts,” they told me. “The bottom’s gonna get messed up anyway.” So how many boards get messed up then? My answers ranged from eight or nine to and estimated nearly 20 skateboards a year alone.
If one was to go through skateboards so fast, does it matter which one a skater picked up to serve as the next victim? Apparently so.
“I look down the length of the board, you know?” Austin explained, his hand gesturing down the top of the board. “I want it to be smooth, no bumps. My boards are about an eight [inches], that’s the best width to start out on.” The other skaters agreed, citing different weights, makes, and tests to determine their next board.
As I looked across the skate park in front of me, dotted with other bikers and skaters of varying experience, I had to ask: where else do you skate in Baton Rouge? Two answers rung true: downtown, particularly near the levee and under the bridge, and the Louisiana State University campus, so long as you avoided the cops.
“We just skate to enjoy it,” Andrew and Gage explained, and as I shadowed them around the concrete park to take pictures of the group doing what they loved best, it was easy to believe.
You can see the rest of pictures from that afternoon in this album here.