Kids call new skate park ‘awesome’

After having to wait for weeks to try out the new Kiwanis skate park here, area skateboarders finally got a chance to do just that during a “skate-a-thon” fundraiser Saturday afternoon.
And they were impressed.
“It’s pretty wicked. I like it here,” said Fort Frances resident Tim Sharp. “It’s one of the best ones I’ve been at.
“I think it’s a real good idea,” he added, noting it’s important to give local youth places to go and “keep out of trouble.”
“It’s awesome. It’s really good,” agreed Jacob McIntosh. “It’s better than the ones in the cities.”
“I like it. It’s awesome,” enthused Neil Roy. “It was worth the wait.”
“It’s good. It’s awesome,” echoed Mike Sobkowicz.
“It’s real good,” said Adam Bergstrom from International Falls, adding it’s not only better that the skate park there but it tops any he’s seen in the northern Minnesota.
“It’s awesome. It’s better than anything we’ve got in Thunder Bay,” noted Adam Hopkins, who was in Fort Frances visiting Andrew McComb along with a few other friends.
About 60 youths on skateboards, in-line skates, and BMX bikes came out for Saturday’s event, making full use of the $250,000, 9,500 sq. ft. skate park.
The fundraiser brought in about $2,500, which consisted of pledges, proceeds from the M&M Meat Shops barbecue that day, and donations, bringing the skate park committee’s fundraising goal down closer to the $100,000 mark.
Organizer Patsy Roy noted they certainly didn’t raise as much money as the first “skate-a-thon” held in late 2002 at the Ice for Kids Arena, which brought in about $13,000.
But she noted “$2,500 is better than zero,” adding the event was “good PR”—and it was clear from seeing the youth there Saturday that they were truly enjoying the facility, which only became open to them that day.
“We’re happy,” said Rob Tovey, who chairs the skate park committee. “We felt good seeing the kids out there. We know the park is going to get good use.
“They were enjoying it a lot—it shocked the heck out of me how good some of them are,” he added. “How did they learn when we didn’t have anything here?”
But Tovey also stressed the skate park committee still has a lot of fundraising to do, and that the youth who have been involved all along can’t let the fact that the park is now built and open stop them from helping raise more money.
“We’re going to have to regroup and refocus. Now that it’s there, for the kids to get involved, we have to think of something different,” agreed Roy, adding competitions with entry fees could be one option.
Tovey added the committee also is going to have to consider what sort of “risks” the committee might want to take to rake in more money (for example, raffles for “big-ticket items”).
Meanwhile, committee members also will continue to push the “Brick the Park” campaign to local individuals and businesses.
“I’m very pleased with the brick sales. We sold five on Saturday,” noted Tovey. “And that will continue through the winter. I believe that’s where most of our money will come in.”
While numerous businesses already have purchased blocks of bricks, the committee admitted getting the public’s support right now is crucial to the campaign’s ultimate success.
It hopes to see even more people buy those bricks now that the skate park is up and running.
Bricks cost $100 each, and will be installed to form a patio surrounding the skate park, with individual, family, or company names on each brick (or set of bricks).
This patio will be built next spring.
Tovey noted it’s encouraging that committee members are continuing to get calls from people wanting to donate money to the cause.
“That sort of stuff is regularly coming in,” he said, adding the total they have to raise is coming down all the time.
“We still have a long ways to go, but it’s coming down. I hope in the next week or so we can get it down into the $100,000 range.”
Anyone wanting to buy bricks, or simply make a donation, can drop by Skates & Blades (648 Scott St.), or call Roy (274-4244), Rob Tovey (274-6113), Keith Knapp (274-7447), or Duane Cridland (274-7716).

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