Eager teen-agers line up at skating park's opening


THE TOWN OF MOUNT Airy held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony to open its skateboard park at Watkins Park on Tuesday.

Mayor Gerald R. Johnson, accompanied by Councilman David Pyatt and his wife, Sheila, had the honor of cutting the ribbon to the new $100,000 recreational area designed for in-line skaters and skateboard enthusiasts.

Finishing touches were being put on the area before the ceremony, which was attended by more than 70 people, most of them expectant teens with skateboards. Eager skaters continued to arrive long after the ceremony. They ranged in age from 3 years old to adults.

Ippy Simmons, a Mount Airy resident, said her 4- and 5-year-olds "have been waiting for this for over a month and they're so excited. We've been coming out to check on the progress of it."

Registration was held as people lined up for the grand opening. In-line skaters and skateboarders are required to complete a registration and information form and a liability waiver.

Brad Barnwell, who will staff the admitting gate; Jamie Croker, a South Carroll High School student; and J. T. Lynch, a Linganore High School student, were staffing the registration table. More than 50 people had registered before the ceremony.

The skateboard park, begun in November, was built by James Service and Maintenance. The contractor, James Presley, is an avid skateboarder and was among the first to try the park's ramps.

David Pyatt said many young people voiced concerns to the Town Council about the lack of a place for skateboarding away from businesses and busy streets. The park is an effort by the council to give skating enthusiasts a safe place to pursue their sport.

Tim Reardon, co-owner of Pit Crew, a skateboarding and snowboarding store on Market Street in Frederick, has skated most of his life and is impressed with the town's initiative.

"A park such as this is unprecedented on the East Coast in a town this size," said Reardon. "The town really stepped up to the bat for these kids and gave them a nice place. A park like this allows people to become more familiar with the sport and not be so negative and afraid of it."

When asked about the lack of females skating, Reardon said that, although skateboarding is a "fairly male-dominated sport, more girls are getting into it and acceptance of females in the sport is growing, which is good."

Reardon also announced that New Deal Pro Team, a professional skateboarding team that travels around the world, will visit Mount Airy to demonstrate its skills at the park at 4: 45 p.m. today.

The park contains several quarter-pipe ramps, two half-pipes, three pyramids, one "fun box," and two bank ramps.

The half-pipe ramps were lined with skateboarders, who seemed to float in the air for a split second before turning and plunging down the curved sides. It looked like a well-choreographed ballet, only with helmets and kneepads.

Donna Abel's Southwest Carroll neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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