CHINLE, Ariz. - Skaters, bikers and fans from Tuba City to Window Rock, amassed at the Chinle Junior High School. By the hundreds they came to witness the grand opening of the Skateboard Park. The new park filled quickly with skaters enjoying the heavy metal music, food, and prizes.
This project was largely due to planning and vision of the Chinle School District, a vision, which began in the 1990s,
"Ever since then, it seems like the seed was planted for Chinle" said Gloria Grant, Chinle Junior High Principal. "The Chinle School District has a vision, they really do see down the line - what is it that will keep the youth out of trouble? When you mention skateboarders, a lot of people tend to look the other way."
The Skateboard Park project became a community effort.
"It started with the community kind of embracing the idea that it is not a bad thing - it is a good thing. They, all students and the youth, need a place, a venue and this was recognized by our school board and administrators, at least 15 years ago," Grant said. "We had skaters in our family for generations, so it comes natural that I embrace this and I see it as a good thing. I see it as a very good area for the students, small children to young adults, to be able to have a place to go to, a place to enjoy."
The $500,000 state of the art Skateboard Park grand opening was blessed with the presence of Chad Knight, a professional skater for 13 years, who started skating at the tender age of 10. He is now involved with Skatewave/LSI since 2007, participating in numerous skate park grand openings throughout the country and has also been part of the Skatewave R&D Team working on continuous product development and improvements. Winner of the Houston Make-a-Wish event, he possesses a well-rounded skateboarding experience and understanding of what the youth like to ride, which is his extension of his love for skateboarding.
"People really don't realize the need for a skateboard park until they build one and then some 300 or more kids show up at the grand opening and then they see the need - like here, the turnout is awesome, it amazing, this is the biggest turnout I have ever seen," said Knight. "There is a need for a skate park everywhere - all over the world. If you don't want your city to be a skate park, you'll need to build a skate park."
"It is a lot safer to skate in a skate park then on the streets," Knight continued with a word of encouragement, "Skaters, just have fun - don't get caught up in anything too serious - just do it because you like it."
The local skaters expressed enthusiasm about the new skateboard park.
"It's pretty good, I like it, all the stuff is really close, you can pump real good and you can get a lot of good tricks in line, too. I like it," said Brent Johnson of Chinle.
"I like it. Now I can practice and learn more tricks with this new park and have a safe place to skate," said Jeremi Cummings of Chinle.
Macy Clauschee of Chinle wishes "more girls were involved in the sport of skating, because it's really fun - we are very lucky to have a skate park."