Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides and extreme sports athlete Travis Pastrana lay down on the asphalt outside the Wiley H. Bates Heritage Park Wednesday and, with a crowd of children cheering them on, remained very still as a motorcycle did a bunny-hop over them.
The message of this was the importance of having fun while being safe, brought to children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County by Pastrana's Nitro Circus, an action sports collective, and other partners.
Pastrana's group was the star of a bicycle safety clinic held Wednesday at the Bates facility, which drew children from the Bates, Bywater, Admiral Oaks, Meade Village and Freetown Boys & Girls Clubs.
In January Annapolis and Naval Academy officials announced a deal to allow Pastrana's traveling extreme sports show to come to Annapolis July 23 for an event at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Pastrana was born and raised in Annapolis and now lives in Davidsonville.
According to Pastrana's uncle, Alan Pastrana, who helped organize Wednesday's Boys & Girls Clubs event, one of the stipulations of that agreement was volunteer work.
"There's no greater place than right here," Alan Pastrana said at the event.
The mayor called Travis Pastrana a hometown hero, and said he thought it was fantastic that the group came to teach the children about bicycle safety and staying active.
"Always be safe and wear a helmet and protection," Pantelides told the children.
The Boys & Girls Club event began with a presentation on bicycle safety from Anne Arundel County Police. Bike patrol officers Pfc. Stanley Newborn and Cpl. Dominic Scali reviewed their equipment with the children.
Their helmets are their most important piece of equipment, they said. To make sure a helmet fits correctly, the officers told the children, use the two-finger rule: There should be a space the width of two fingers between eyebrows and the helmet, you should be able to fit two fingers between the chin strap and your chin, and you should make sure the strap makes a "V" around your ears.
They also said it's important to protect eyes and hands with glasses and gloves.
After the presentation, members of the Annapolis High School football team used chants to get the children excited for the Nitro Circus performance.
Travis Pastrana then spoke to the children about perseverance and practice.
"You have to practice more than anyone else is willing to practice. You have to be tougher than anyone else is willing to be tough," he said. "And in order to do that you have to wear your helmet and you have to be padded, because how much practice can you do if you're hurt?"
None, he said.
He also told the children it's important to have fun.
"The most important thing about anything you do in this world is you have fun. You wake up every day with a smile on your face, and you chase your dreams," he said.
Phil Smage, a new member of Pastrana's Nitro Circus, performed tricks for the children on a motorcycle. Pastrana also briefly performed on a small go-kart.
The event concluded with members of Righttime Medical Care's HeadFirst sports injury and concussion care program teaching children about concussion prevention and treatment.
The Capital writer Bill Wagner contributed to this report.