Erie skate park holds 'Summer Street Jam'

Arsenal Skateshop, a driving force in the Erie skateboarding community held their annual End of Summer Jam on Sept. 25.
Locals comment on skating scene

By Jon Haag
Contributing Writer/The Spectator

Anyone familiar with skateboarding remembers the heyday of the early 2000s. Tony Hawk and the X-Games had successfully created a worldwide phenomenon, kicked off by the successful landing of the 900. Skateboarding invaded everyday life in a way it had not done since its inception. Videogames, television shows, movies all culminated in an oversaturated market. Skateboarding had reached its peak. Almost 15 years later, skateboarding still has a niche, though not as massive as it used to be. Skate parks flew up all over the country in the 2000s and in 2009, the local community rallied donations to build a park in Erie. The concrete park is littered with graffiti sprawling over the various transitions and ramps throughout the park. On one side, a massive wall of quarter pipes and extensions, on the other a street oriented course with handrails, hubbas, and stair sets. The park is small, but flows well. Many of the veteran skaters can roll around the park in one big line, navigating the quarter pipes and grinding the rails and boxes effortlessly.

Arsenal Skateshop, a driving force in the Erie skateboarding community, held their annual End of Summer Jam on Sept. 25. A tent branded with the Monster energy drink logo was erected on the far side of the park with a variety of food and drinks for any thirsty athlete. The park was crowded and busy, with dozens of skaters zooming back and forth over the various ramps and rails.

“It was good to see so many people out to skate; it’s been years since I’ve seen a park be that active. Definitely a bit crowded, but the best trick contest was great to watch. Tons of good skateboarders were out there,” said Nathan Whitehouse, a 24-year-old marketing specialist traveling from Stoneboro to skate the park.

The best trick contest was more light-hearted fun than actual competition, an announcer on the bullhorn cheered on the locals as they tried everything from “Christ Airs” to blunt slides. Boards could be heard slapping the pavement in applause anytime someone stuck their trick and rode away clean. Most of the spectators were also skateboarders, but several families showed up to the event to cheer on their children in their sport of choice.

“I just came to check out the park, but watching some of these kids skate was sick. Some of them seemed like they could compete on a near professional level,” said Whitehouse.

Best trick was carried out over several hours, and by the time the contest was done, the sunlight was beginning to fade. Winners were announced and the park thinned out, but nobody seemed to mind the results as much as they were focused on skating until dark. Arsenal Skateshop gathered everyone at the park for a product toss, where they threw various pieces of merchandise into a crowd of people, and when that was done the skateboarding resumed.

“I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now, and it has sort of died out in my area. I’m just glad to see this many people are still doing it,” said Austin Luchanskey, a 25-year-old student at New Castle School of Trades.

Jon Haag is a contributing writer for The Spectator.