Skating was the only thing he wanted to do.”
— Zuzana Moran
If you go
The B-3 Skate Park will hold an Out of School Skate Bash and the grand opening of the park’s New Plaza.
When: 4 p.m. Saturday. Check in begins at 4 p.m. Competition starts at 5 p.m. Deadline for registration is Friday. There will be no registration the day of the competition.
Where: 26740 Pine Avenue off West Terry Street
Cost: $10 registration fee and a $2 spectator fee.
The competition is for children 12 and under, and for the Young Guns Category for teens 13 to 15. You can register at the Bonita Springs Recreation Center.
Information: (239) 992-2556 orwww.bonitaspringsrecreation.org.
BONITA SPRINGS — The original version of this story two quotes attributed to Ramp Doctors owner Ben Johnson were actually from Brotherhood Skateboard Shop owner Brent Sanders. The attribution has corrected in the story.
The sky over B3 Skate Park was inky, but there was no lightning, a sign that the skateboarders were free to keep riding.
The all-male skaters wore helmets — a requirement — t-shirts, shorts and worn-in sneakers, scuffed from propelling their skateboards forward on concrete, asphalt, metal and wood.
Five-year-old Danny Moran was the youngest skateboarder at B3 — short for “boards, bikes and blades” — Monday afternoon, but that did not stop him from enjoying the ramps at the newly-constructed street plaza.
His mother, Zuzana Moran, watched him from a picnic table underneath a covered awning, which acts as a holding area for anyone without a helmet, while he zoomed from ramp to ramp showing off his latest tricks.
“Look mommy,” Danny called to her once when he perceived her attention was elsewhere.
Moran smiled in response, watched him lead his skateboard down the side of a sloped wall, and gave him a “thumbs up” when he was at the bottom.
B3 Skate Park, located in the Bonita Springs Recreation Center off of West Terry Street, has already been in use since it was remodeled in March. A tall half-pipe, a concave ramp that allows more experienced skateboarders and BMX bikers to build momentum for gravity defying tricks, was removed and a street-style plaza was put in its place.
On Saturday the community will celebrate the park’s official grand opening during the “Out of School Bash,” a skate contest for children and teens up to 15 years of age that begins at 5 p.m. Participants will be split into two age categories: 12-and-under skaters and those between the ages of 13 and 15, known as “Young Guns.” The top three skaters in each category will be awarded prizes.
The city wanted to make B3 user-friendly for skaters of all skill levels and ages, according to Lara Taylor, spokesperson for the City of Bonita Springs.
Ben Johnson, the owner of the Ramp Doctors, the skate park construction company based out of Southwest Florida that built B3 Skate Park in 2003, said the half-pipe ramp was the least used part of the park, took up a lot of space and was out dated.
“The trend is definitely street skating. It costs more to have half pipe skating for kids,” he said.
Johnson, who has been skateboarding since he was a pre-teen, led this year’s redesign and used his experience as a skater to guide his choices.
“As long as I skate, I can keep up with the latest trends,” he said.
Brent Sanders, who owns Brotherhood Skateboard Shop in Fort Myers and has been involved with skateboarding events at B3 in the past, supported the redesign because he feels the street plaza is in tune with what skaters really want.
“Most people skate to have fun and relax,” Sanders said.
He believes there are a lot of misconceptions about skateboarding. Many people view the sport as more aggressive than it is because of the way it has been marketed over the last decade or so, according to Sanders.
“(Extreme sports) was just a label that was put on to sell (skateboarding) to ESPN,” Sanders said.
He claims most skating is done in street-like settings and not on the half-pipe or “vert” ramps used during televised extreme sports events that make it appear as if all skaters “are flying through the air.”
However, he calls television marketing “a double-edged sword” because it also helped bring skateboarding to the mainstream.
“It became more acceptable to parents,” he said.
Because of that mainstream acceptance, Sanders said “having a town without a skate park in 2011 seems kind of ridiculous.”
“You want amenities. You want there to be … good schools and things for your kid to do. If your kid is head over heels with skating and there’s nothing to do, you’re going to have an unhappy kid and an unhappy family,” he said.
Moran, who said Danny has skated as many as seven hours straight at a time, believes she could not live in a community without a skate park.
“That would be an issue,” she said.
Every afternoon, they visit different skate parks in Lee and Collier Counties.
Moran said she was “sick to her stomach” the first time she watched her son skate and tried getting him interested in tamer sports, such as T-ball, but nothing else attracted his attention.
“It was so boring to him. Skating was the only thing he wanted to do,” she said adding that Danny recently participated in his first competition in Tampa and was the youngest one there.
So during a juice break Monday, Moran showed him a flyer for “The Out of School Bash” competition.
He shared his desire to compete again by nodding “yes” between slurps of juice from his straw.